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Swansea draw deconstructed: Austin’s positioning and QPR’s attacking failures

After QPR’s frustration in midweek against mid-table Swansea, ‘R’ Generation’s Alex Bullamore picks apart the issues in QPR’s attack…

After QPR’s frustration in midweek against mid-table Swansea, ‘R’ Generation’s Alex Bullamore picks apart the issues in QPR’s attack…

There are many reasons why QPR didn’t manage to squeeze out a win against Swansea City on Tuesday. Firstly, there were the issues with our creative output, without the flair and talent of Albert Adomah bombing down the right flank we did lose quite a bit going forward. Moses Odubajo has faced a huge amount of criticism this season, on Tuesday he was willing but the ability to create a good chance just wasn’t there consistently.

We also missed the influence of Ilias Chair, who is still out in Cameroon with Morocco occupying a space on their bench. It is testament to the other players that this was the first time we’ve really struggled without him, to lose such an important cog in the starting eleven in the midst of a play-off push must not be under appreciated.

Also, when we actually created something, we wasted the chance! Lyndon Dykes’ opportunity at near point black range will immediately come to mind. It can definitely be filed under ‘should’ve been scored,’ and someone who was perhaps more unlucky was Luke Amos.

Amos made a darting run into the box, took his shot and somehow the ball bounced off the inside of the post much to the delight and relief of the Swansea players. On another day that goes in, the fans go home happy and the minor meltdown from QPR twitter is postponed for another week.

However, I don’t want to dwell on these reasons too much regardless of how important they are to the end result. Instead, I want to briefly look at Charlie Austin’s positioning as a striker. Now for anyone who has listened to the ‘R’ Generation podcast (available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and Google Podcasts by the way) I have brought up Austin quite often this season.

One quick thing I want to make very clear; I do not dislike Austin. The shift he has put in for this club and continues to put in is outstanding, he carried us in our promotion season and then single handily gave us the best chance of staying up once promoted. Last season he was one quarter of the four loans that turned us from relegation candidates to outsiders for the play offs, and this year he’s carrying on with this task of getting QPR into the Premier League again. So, I hope everyone understands just how much time I have for Austin, he is one of our few modern iconic players and has been so crucial to our limited success.

As I was saying, I’ve brought this up on the ‘R’ Generation podcast (seriously give it a listen). Austin has been dropping too deep and wide at times. The Swansea game is a prime example of this. I’ve already mentioned that we created too little (just 0.63xG a big drop of from the 2.26 against Coventry) and I think where Austin is playing when he is the lone striker certainly contributes.

A quick look at some heatmaps of Austin’s performances and I believe my argument is vindicated. In this heatmap below of Austin’s performance against Swansea (from WhoScored.com) it is clear that he simply wasn’t in the box often enough.

With the way we set up against Swansea, Austin was the sole striker for majority of the game. If one of our midfielders go into a position to cross the ball into the box looking for Austin, chances are he wouldn’t be there. Instead, he had probably started the move after dropping deep to win the ball back. I should at the very least commend his efforts and I think his willingness to go win the ball back does highlight how hard he does work for the team. However, I think we would all appreciate him more if he kept it simple and does what he does best.

There are two good examples of this firstly against Everton in the cup, and then against Barnsley in the league. Below are two more heatmaps of Austin’s performances from those games (again from WhoScored.com). The first heatmap is the cup match against Everton and the second is the game against Barnsley.

Austin scored in both of these games, two against Everton and one against Barnsley. All three goals were scored in the box, exactly where we all know Austin is most effective. The heatmaps do show more time spent in the penalty box across both games and in reality, it’s really simple. When your striker plays as a striker the team will create more overall, and he will score more.

In fact, if you look at all 5 of Austin’s open play goals, all of them have come from in the box. Austin’s game has come on leaps and bounds in other areas since he’s left and then come back, his passing range is actually very impressive now. However, that isn’t what he is there to do we have players more than capable of winning the ball back and then setting an attack in motion. All we want of Austin is that he is at the end of those moves to put the ball in the back of the net.

I hope this was an enjoyable read for you! As I mentioned quite a few times, ‘R’ Generation has a podcast called ‘R’ Generation on Air (a QPR Podcast).

I am the host of said podcast and I would appreciate it if you give our ramblings a listen whenever you have the chance, you may even enjoy it! Also ‘R’ Generation has passed 2000 twitter followers and that is incredible so if you’re one of them, thank you for following and reading our stuff!

‘R’ Generation On Air:

2 replies on “Swansea draw deconstructed: Austin’s positioning and QPR’s attacking failures”

The modern Number 9s role seems to be to drop deeper, either to get more involved or draw the CBs out of position. Only effective when they are able to get back in the box at the end of the build up. Lewandowski is a good example, Kane not so much this season, Austin’s not quite got the balance right yet. Amazing workrate but should be scoring more goals.

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