ALL eyes will be on Loftus Road this Friday for the first west London derby of the season. We take a look at where the key battles could occur in W12 tomorrow.
Kevin McDonald v Luke Freeman
The Scotsman Kevin McDonald is a trusted member of the Fulham squad and does a fine job of keeping things ticking over in the middle of the park.
McDonald’s work can often go unnoticed but his ball winning qualities and simple distribution is crucial to their midfield fully functioning and allows those such as Johansen to dictate the flow of the game. He’s also been given the captain’s armband on occasions this season – a role he seems to flourish with and highlights his seniority in the Fulham team.
His main task for the afternoon will be to keep an eye on the diminutive Luke Freeman. QPR’s left footed playmaker is excellent at exploiting little gaps in midfield and if given too much time on the ball will often punish the opponent with his great vision and quick feet.
McDonald is likely to try and interrupt Freeman’s game early on but we have seen plenty of times at Loftus Road this season that the midfielder tends to have strong second half performances which could be crucial to proceedings.
Ryan Sessegnon v Pawel Wszolek
One of the league’s hottest prospects Ryan Sessegnon is certainly a player that will have an influence on this game. The 17-year-old often sees a lot of the ball down the left-hand-side for Fulham and gives the Cottagers good width.
Going forward he has shown he can be devastating with his great burst of speed and mazy dribbling style and has this year played at both left-wing-back and as a more traditional left-back.
There’s no doubting the potential of Sessegnon going forward but in defence he is far more suspect, which is not all too surprising given his age. The left-footer may find that attack is the best form of defence as he comes up against Rangers Polish express.
Wszolek is a danger for any opponent he comes up against with his speed and often low crosses resulting into chances for QPR particularly on the counter attack. If Sessegnon gets caught up field then despite his impressive recovery pace he will have problems catching Wszolek in what is an exciting match up to look forward.
Stefan Johansen v Josh Scowen
With one key battle being McDonald vs Freeman it’s very likely that another could be in the other third of the field between Johansen and Scowen.
The Norwegian is a very clever player and often leads by example with his tireless running and neat passing between the boxes. His ability to win the ball and set Fulham racing forward is crucial to the way they play and with the Cottagers likely to be without star man Tom Cairney, much is resting on the 26-year-olds shoulders.
But it’s games like this where Scowen is likely to shine in the R’s midfield. The midfielder’s aggression and mentality are perfect for derby games although he’ll have to keep his discipline in what can often be a fiery encounter.