QPR aim to keep run going
QPR will be looking for only their second home victory of 2017 when they host Wigan Athletic for tonight’s Championship clash under the lights at Loftus Road.
Coming off the back of what was arguably the performance of the season against Birmingham on Saturday, the R’s will now look to turn their fortunes around at home against a Wigan side who are in decent form having only lost two of their last seven matches.
The Latics find themselves in 22nd position but are just two points off Bristol City and have built momentum over the last few weeks after previously losing five games in a row in December. There is now genuine belief around the club that they can stay in the division following their promotion last season.
A lot has changed for both sides since our last fixture back in August where Nedum Onouha scored the only goal in what was a tight contest. Both teams have appointed new managers with Wigan dispensing of Gary Caldwell and appointing former Manchester United Reserve boss Warren Joyce.
Joyce arrived at the DW stadium with great pedigree having helped bring through players like Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and our very own Ravel Morrison. However, the Wigan job is his first as a senior manager in English football. Despite a difficult start, Joyce now seems to be getting the best out of a talented group of players.
Their home form is what has restricted Wigan so far this campaign with the Latics having the worst home record in the league. But away from home they have proven very difficult to break down with a strong and resolute defensive record and also a threat on the counter attack. Only seven teams in the league have conceded less goals than Wigan.
Preston were the last side to fire a blank against the Wigan defence when the two sides drew 0-0 on Saturday in what was their last fixture with stand in goalkeeper Matt Gilks saving a penalty.
Tonight is a massive chance for Rangers to pull away from the sides below them. A win would take them ten points clear of Wigan and potentially into 14th place.
Confidence is high amongst Holloway’s team but he will know more than anyone that performances and results against sides in the bottom half of the table have been disappointing this season. However, if the R’s can reach the levels that they did in Saturday’s victory over Birmingham then three points tonight should be a given.
QPR: The good news is there are no fresh injury concerns since Saturday’s win at Birmingham City. Jack Robinson came through 90 minutes for the Under-23s on Monday but this game comes too soon for him whilst Steven Caulker remains out with a hip injury.
Wigan: Wigan are expected to be without Michael Jacobs when they travel to Loftus Road. Latics boss Warren Joyce believes the winger's hamstring injury will continue to keep him occupying the side-lines on this occasion. Nick Powell (hamstring) is among those still missing for Joyce, along with the likes of goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard (elbow) and Craig Morgan (toe).
Predicted line up: Gilks, Connolly, Buxton, Burn, Warnock, Power, Perkins, Morsy, Tunnicliffe, Grigg, Bogle.
Key Player: Omar Bogle – The January recruit has already hit the ground running at Wigan and is a major threat going forward for the Latics.
PRE MATCH TALK
Marc Bircham: “Historically, we have not done well at home against teams towards the bottom of the table. We have done well in games when the onus is on the opposition to come at us, but not so well when the onus is more on us. I know it’s a cliché, but the crowd plays a massive part in all this. They were brilliant in our last home fixture against Huddersfield – they really kept the lads going and we came so close to getting something from the game. In tonight’s match, we really need them behind us again – they can really affect us. The players have been really feeding off the crowd recently and for some of them it’s the best feeling they’ve got from the fans in the time they’ve been here.”
Warren Joyce: “They’re a big club and are another side who at the start of the season probably expected to be towards the top end of the table. They’ve invested heavily this year and have got threats in their side. I’m expecting another tough game. We’ve proved we’re adaptable to a lot of situations that have come up, so we’ve got to be ready for it down there too. I kind of know what to expect from Ian Holloway’s teams and we’ve got to make sure we’re up for the battle.”
QPR win: 13/10
QPR first goal scorer: Idrissa Sylla 11/2
Wigan first goal scorer: Omar Bogle 11/2
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan 0-1 QPR - Championship, Saturday 27th August 2016
QPR goal-scorers: Nedum Onuoha
HEAD TO HEAD
(In all competitions)
QPR wins: 6
Wigan wins: 2
Referee: James Linington
Assistant Referees: Neil Davies and Robert Hyde
Fourth official: Charles Breakespear
It will be mainly cloudy through the day with intermittent light rain. Some local bright spells may form. Staying mild, but with strengthening winds later. 11% chance of rain.
TONIGHT'S OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
Kick-offs at 7:45pm unless otherwise stated
Derby County v Burton Albion
Huddersfield Town v Reading
Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford