R's aim for 3 from 3
QPR are going for the treble! Not quite three trophies but three consecutive 2018 league victories when we face Middlesbrough at Loftus Road on Saturday.
The R’s have begun the New Year in fine form, coming back from 1-0 down to defeat Cardiff City before brushing aside Burton Albion 3-1 at the Pirelli Stadium last weekend.
These results combined with a decent showing over the Christmas period have left QPR in 14th place in the Sky Bet Championship.
Middlesbrough are experiencing a somewhat peculiar season. They are 9th in the table – just two points off a play-off spot but they dismissed manager Garry Monk last month which suggests that their owners expect to be back in the Premier League next season.
To help them get to promoted they have hired experienced former West Brom manager Tony Pulis. The Welshman took Stoke up in 2008 and is well respected.
Pulis’ football teams are built on a hardworking and organised approach and are usually very dangerous from set pieces. His new Boro side are still in the process of adapting to their new managers’ tactics.
Since he took over on Boxing Day they have lost two and won one although it is worth pointing out that their defeats were against Fulham and Aston Villa who both have promotion ambitions of their own to contend with.
Middlesbrough strength currently lies in their defence with just four teams conceding less goals than the Teesiders this season. This is helped by managing to hold on to their skipper and best defender Ben Gibson despite numerous approaches from Premier League clubs.
That’s not to say they don’t have the talent up top. Forward Britt Assombalonga, on his day, is as dangerous as anyone in this league whilst only inconsistency is stopping the explosive Adama Traore from not playing at a higher level.
There’s been plenty of entertainment between these two sides over the years. In fact there has been 17 goals between both clubs in the last five fixtures.
In our promotion season to the Championship in 2010/11 Rangers beat Boro 3-0 in both the home and away fixtures, whilst certainly less memorable from a QPR point of view was the 5-1 thrashing that the Teesiders inflicted on us at Loftus Road back in 2009.
The current R’s team have certainly tightened the ship in recent matches, conceding just five goals in the last six games. Hopefully another strong defensive display can go towards another three points on the weekend.
When and where?
Saturday 20th January 2018 - kick-off 3pm - Loftus Road
Last Time Out
Middlesbrough 2-3 QPR - Saturday 16th September 2017
Middlesbrough twice came from behind to beat the R’s and move within a point of the Championship play-off places.
David Wheeler gave Rangers the perfect start as he poked in for his first QPR goal, before Lewis Baker levelled with his first Boro goal.
Substitute Jamie Mackie put QPR back in front as he charged down Darren Randolph's clearance to tap in.
But Ashley Fletcher levelled with a header before Britt Assombalonga nodded in what proved to be the winner.
- Middlesbrough have scored in each of their last nine away matches
- Five of Matt Smith’s six goals this season have come at Loftus Road
- QPR have scored two or more goals in six of the last seven games against Middlesbrough
Ian Holloway: “It’ll be a tough ask against a side with a good manager in Tony Pulis. He’s just picked up a new team and his methods are proven. His teams are always difficult to break down and score against.”
Tony Pulis: “It'll be a tough game, it's always a difficult ground to go to and they're on a good run of form at the moment. It's a tight ground and a difficult place to go to with the way the grounds built. I've got a lot of time for Ian [Holloway].”
QPR: QPR welcome Alex Baptiste back to the squad following a knock he picked up against MK Dons. Paul Smyth (thigh) but Jordan Cousins (hamstring) has returned to training.
Middlesbrough: Brazilian fullback Fabio has missed the last four games and is once again a doubt for this fixture. Pulis otherwise has near a fully fit squad to choose from.
Oliver Langford: Has awarded ten penalties in 26 games this season