Hoops aiming high
Just one point separates Blackburn and QPR in the standings but it’s the visitors in much the better form ahead of the two meeting at Ewood Park at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
Rovers are faring well on their return to the Championship and can be content with their efforts so far. Precisely mid-table, Tony Mowbray is using his knowledge of the division to make Blackburn hard to beat and a competitive outfit at this level once again.
The League One Runners-Up should have no problem staying in the division by the looks of it and could even surprise a few by playing some part in the mix for the play off-spots. Either way they’ll need to improve on a home record that has seen them win only two from seven - one too many draws has stumped them so far and Mowbray will be only too aware of the need to up their points return on their own patch.
Doing so against QPR will prove tough though, especially amidst a host of injury concerns that ultimately led to midfielder Richie Smallwood stepping into the breach as a stand-in keeper against West Brom at the weekend. Injuries to captain Charlie Mulgrew and Jack Rodwell had already contributed to all three subs being used, before regular number one David Raya was carried from the field and taken to hospital after an unfortunate collision.
With Raya out indefinitely and doubts over Mulgrew, Rodwell and other defensive regular Darragh Lenihan, Blackburn will be considerably weaker and may in fact be grateful to take a point from a challenging fixture.
Steve McClaren has gone from zero to hero at QPR in rapid fashion. The ex-England boss was on the verge of being sacked following the R’s shocking start which had them rock bottom of the league following four defeats from as many games.
Yet, since finding a system best suited to the crop of players at his disposal, and managing to add Tomer Hemed and Nahki Wells – players who know this division inside and out and can most importantly add goals – McClaren has managed to turn things around with QPR nothing sort of a revelation.
The Hoops have collected as many points as table toppers Sheffield United over the last ten games.
Notable victories over Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa at Loftus Road and workmanlike wins at Bolton, Reading and Ipswich means the Hoops have collected as many points as table toppers Sheffield United over the last ten games. Such a reverse in fortunes has to be applauded and McClaren, who would’ve rightly accepted the criticism which fell his way early on, will equally be enjoying the praise coming the way of his side right now.
Having won four of the last five to nil, QPR will head to Lancashire in confident mood and with motivation high considering a place in the play-offs is potentially the reward for another three points. On current form, few clubs would want to face QPR who will be wary to avoid getting carried away at this early stage but will view this as an ideal opportunity to at least extend their unbeaten run to six.
Blackburn’s backline is likely to have an unfamiliar feel to it due to the injuries sustained at the weekend. At the other end of the spectrum, QPR’s solid rearguard of which Leistner and Lynch have played a key part, could hardly be more settled.
I'm backing QPR to get the better of this one. A DNB at 5/4 factors in the chance of the match ending as a draw which cannot be ruled out considering how many Blackburn have come up with already at home.