Rock bottom Rotherham next up
QPR will host bottom of the table Rotherham on Saturday for the last match before the league calendar takes a two week break for international fixtures.
Rangers will be seeking revenge on Rotherham after the Millers secured a rare but deserved victory back when the sides met last December.
Since that game things have dramatically improved for Rangers but the same cannot be said of our visitors who find themselves rooted at the bottom of the league 22 points adrift of Blackburn in 21st. In the unlikely situation that Rotherham were to win all their remaining nine league games such is their position in the table that it would not guarantee them staying up.
It looks like being a disappointing end to what has been a really positive three years for Rotherham. Since their promotion from League One back in 2014, they have defied the odds and beaten the drop but it looks a step too far for them this year.
It’s also been a difficult season in terms of the way the club has been managed. Alan Stubbs began the campaign as manager but lasted just five months before former R’s assistant manager Kenny Jackett took the job however he was there for less than 40 days before handing in his resignation. Paul Warne, who played over 250 games for Rotherham has been appointed on an interim basis.
Since his appointment Rotherham have won just three games and have picked up only four points in 2017, scoring seven goals. The Millers playing staff is not the biggest but there are some talented individuals amongst it including striker Danny Ward who was heavily linked with Rangers during the January transfer window. Despite Rotherham’s struggles he’s managed to find the net ten times this season and has scored nine of their 32 league goals.
Last weekend Warne’s side battled hard, showing that none of the players amongst the South Yorkshire outfit have surrendered the sword just yet, but ultimately succumbed to a 1-0 home defeat to Wolves.
QPR go into this one in great form having gathered more points than anyone in the Championship in the last six fixtures. It shows just how far the club has come in the last few months that a draw against Leeds left some disappointed given the quality of the performance on the day and you’d imagine a similar display against Rotherham will see another three points in the bag.
The Hoops know that a victory could see them climb into the top half of the table for the first time since September and set up the perfect platform to end the season on a high.
QPR: Jack Robinson is getting closer to a return to full fitness whilst Kazenga LuaLua is also making progress but both are out for this weekend’s fixture. Jordan Cousins remains side-lined.
Rotherham: Goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell is back in light training but Saturday’s game will come too soon for him and defender Darnell Fisher has also been ruled out. Both Jonson Clarke-Harris and Carlton Morris are in contention to return to the squad as is former Rangers player Dexter Blackstock but Joe Mattock misses out through suspension.
Predicted line up: Price, Vaulks, Ajayi, Belaid, Purrington, Forde, Smallwood, Frecklington, Taylor, Adeyemi, Ward.
Key Player: Danny Ward - Rotherham’s main source of goals and their biggest threat going forward.
PRE MATCH TALK
Ian Holloway: “We're not good favourites! QPR never have been, have they? Anyone who thinks it's going to be easy is naive. They're not going to come here and roll over. No QPR fan should turn up at Loftus Road and be cocky this weekend. If they do, they don't understand this league. Our preparation this week has been all about how we win this game. No-one in our training ground is taking this fixture lightly and believe you me, everyone knows exactly what we need to do to get a positive result. I remember how it felt losing to them up at their place earlier in the season.”
Matt Hamshaw (interim assistant): “We've watched them and we're very impressed. We think there are areas we can penetrate but we know their strengths too. You don't have to prove anything if you’re Ian Holloway with his achievements in the game. We want to put our away record to bed.”
QPR win: 4/9
Rotherham win: 6/1
QPR first goal scorer: Matt Smith 4/1
Rotherham first goal scorer: Danny Ward 7/1
LAST TIME OUT
Rotherham 1-0 QPR - Championship, Saturday 10th December 2016
Rotherham goal-scorer: Isaiah Brown
HEAD TO HEAD
(In all competitions)
QPR wins: 6
Rotherham wins: 5
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistant Referees: Dan Cook and Darren Blunden
Fourth official: Nicholas Kinseley
Changeable over the weekend with some outbreaks of rain but it will often be dry. 10% chance of rain.
WEEKEND'S OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
Kick-offs 3pm unless otherwise stated
Friday 17th March 2017
Bristol City v Huddersfield Town (7:45pm)
Sheffield Wednesday v Reading (7:45pm)
Saturday 18th March 2017
Blackburn Rovers v Preston North End (1pm)
Nottingham Forest v Derby County (1pm)
Birmingham City v Newcastle United
Burton Albion v Brentford
Cardiff City v Ipswich Town
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Norwich City v Barnsley
Wigan Athletic v Aston Villa
Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion (5:30pm)