QPR target win to secure survival
QUEENS Park Rangers take on Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road on Saturday in what is arguably the biggest game of the season for both clubs.
The R’s have been dragged into the relegation battle following six defeats in a row although our destiny is still very much in the hands of Holloway’s side. A win on Saturday would completely kill any possibility of Rangers going down with Blackburn still five points behind with just two games to play.
QPR are 19th in the league with Nottingham Forest directly below them in 20th and fellow midlands side Birmingham City in 21st. Rotherham are already relegated and Wigan are also extremely likely to head back down to League One. That leaves one out of four fighting for their place in the division – with QPR two points ahead of Forest and three in front of Birmingham.
This season is unlikely to live long in the memory of many Rangers fans but if the Hoops can maintain their status in the Championship then it will give the club the chance of rebuilding in the summer. It is, of course, easy to forget that this time last month QPR were one of the form team in the division, playing good football and had just come off the back off a 5-1 victory over Rotherham. A combination of bad luck, injuries and some poor performances has meant all that momentum has been lost, which shows just how quickly things can change in football but Rangers still have the chance to end a disappointing campaign on a high.
Our visitors Nottingham Forest have themselves not had too much to shout about this term. Despite a fairly decent start, Forest have struggled to find any sort of rhythm this season and have consistently been towards the lower end of the table. The August sale of their young prodigy Oliver Burke and allowing skipper Henri Lansbury to leave in January has certainly not helped their cause but this will be a year that Forest will be glad to see the back of.
A lot of their problems have come from two issues; picking up just 11 points away from home (second worse in the division) and conceding goals with only Rotherham letting in more than Forest’s 76.
Former Rangers manager Mark Warburton took over from Philippe Montanier in March and results have slightly picked up since the ex-Brentford boss has been in charge. Last weekend’s 3-2 win over Reading was an absolutely crucial result for Forest and means that survival is now completely in their own hands.
There was plenty of drama when the two sides met back earlier in the season. Karl Henry was dismissed in the first half and Britt Assombalonga gave Forest the lead early on in the second period. The match then became ten aside when Hildeberto Pereira was sent off for his second bookable offence with Idrissa Sylla coming off the substitute’s bench and heading in a late equaliser for the Hoops.
Something which QPR manager Ian Holloway says is essential for the final game of the season at Loftus Road is that the players, staff and importantly fans stick together. Loftus Road can be an intimidating place for the opposition to play their football when the crowd is fully behind the R’s and hopefully that roar can see the players over the line on Saturday.
QPR: Grant Hall remains a doubt having missed the last three matches owing to tendonitis, while Jordan Cousins is out for the remainder of the season following surgery on quad muscle.
Nottingham Forest: Zach Clough has been nursing a small injury but is in contention for Saturday’s match. Jack Hobbs is still out but Matt Mills and Armand Traore are both back in training giving Warburton a strong squad to choose from.
Predicted line up: Smith, Lichaj, Worrall, Mancienne, Fox, Vaughan, Ward, Cohen, Osborn, Carayol, Assombalonga.
Key Player: Britt Assombalonga - Has already scored against Rangers this season and has again highlighted his worth to the side this season with 12 league goals this year.
PRE MATCH TALK
Ian Holloway: “Mark Warburton has put a lot of young players into the team, and they beat Reading last weekend. Have they got an advantage? I don’t think so. I’m sure that the disappointment of last weekend will spur us on to a really-good performance. It’s about how many points you end up with. Six games ago, we had the best results in the league. So who’s to say that we can’t do it again? It’d be nice to do it when we need to.”
Mark Warburton: “It could be a defining weekend but we know there are two games to go and we will be trying to get it sorted as soon as we can. QPR have had a tough time over the last six games but there is no doubt about the quality in their squad. One more victory could be enough to keep us up but we will go out and try and win every game we have left.”
QPR win: 6/4
Nottingham Forest: 7/4
QPR first goal scorer: Idrissa Sylla 5/1
Nottingham Forest first goal scorer: Britt Assombalonga 9/2
LAST TIME OUT
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Brentford - Championship, Friday 28th October 2016
QPR goal-scorers: Idrissa Sylla
Nottingham Forest goal-scorers: Britt Assombalonga
HEAD TO HEAD
(In all competitions)
QPR wins: 15
Nottingham Forest wins: 28
Referee: James Linington
Assistant Referees: Daniel Robathan and Robert Merchant
Fourth official: Robert Whitton
Saturday dry for most with some sunshine. 8% chance of rain.
SATURDAY’S OTHER LEAGUE FIXTURES
All matches kick-off at 3pm unless otherwise stated
Barnsley v Burton Albion
Birmingham City v Huddersfield Town
Blackburn Rovers v Aston Villa
Derby County v Wolves
Fulham v Brentford
Ipswich Town v Sheffield Wednesday
Leeds United v Norwich City
Preston North End v Rotherham United
Reading v Wigan Athletic
Brighton & Hove Albion v Bristol City (5:30pm)