Championship Gameweek 23: QPR’s City Ground hoodoo to continue?7 min read
When Nottingham Forest beat Queens Park Rangers 4-0 in this fixture last season, they set a record.
The East Midlanders have avoided defeat in each of their last 34 home meetings with the Rs since 1934: no team in the EFL has played more home matches against one club without losing.
Will the Tricky Trees continue that trend, or are the West Londoners due a change of fortunes on Trentside?
Forest’s solid derby display
Nottingham Forest deserve credit for a steady performance at Derby County, in Monday night’s 0-0 East Midlands derby draw.
The circumstances were not ideal due to the absence of centre-backs Michael Dawson and Danny Fox, which looked costly when Michael Hefele – aerially dominant but not the quickest – and Jack Robinson – a left-back by trade – experienced one or two nervy moments initially.
The duo though were helped out by holding midfielders Jack Colback and Claudio Yacob, who steadily grew in influence.
Yacob pressed with boundless energy and covered a lot of ground, making three strong challenges throughout the evening which helped the defence out.
Colback, meanwhile, managed the game expertly. Not only did he track runners and make key interceptions, he knew instinctively when to speed the game up by breaking forward, or slow it down by buying a free-kick.
The former Newcastle man does those things consistently, making him among the most useful midfielders in the Championship.
Some reflections on last night…
*Colback was immense.
*So was Jacob.
*Pantilimon played well.
*Osborn a bigger influence further up the pitch.
*Danny Fox could go from being fan whipping boy to cult figure.
*this becoming an #nffc team with real structure and identity.
— Paul Taylor (@nottmtails) December 18, 2018
More adventure at home?
For this match, Forest will need to alter their tactical approach, because a draw would not be deemed a positive result as it was at Pride Park.
Of course, there will be risks that come with opening up.
We saw when Queens Park Rangers lost 2-1 at Leeds in their previous road trip that Nahki Wells, a stand-out performer this season, likes extra space in behind; the striker could relish the opportunity to run at his old Huddersfield teammates, Hefele and Robinson.
Equally though, Aitor Karanka employing more adventurous approach will also have advantages.
We saw at Pride Park that attacking midfielder Joao Carvalho showed flashes of quality, even though the frenetically fast-paced nature of the contest was not directly suited to his skillset.
The Portuguese technician normally likes to exchange two or three passes on the edge of the final third to find his bearings, before slotting that killer through ball.
Against a more defensive QPR side, he is likely to enjoy more of the ball in advanced areas and by extension, that will help the Tricky Trees bring the likes of Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley into play more prominently.
McClaren’s centre-back dilemma
Queens Park Rangers deservedly beat Middlesbrough 2-1 last time out.
Steve McClaren had every right to be very pleased with his side’s performance, because had their shooting been slightly more accurate, they could have won by a bigger margin of victory.
He might, however, be concerned by the shortage of options at centre-back.
Joel Lynch went off with a reported dead leg in the second half of that match, meaning Darnell Furlong, an attacking right-back by trade, had to deputize for Lynch in the absence of a natural alternative; that shift did not work out particularly well.
It is hoped that Lynch will be back here – he needs to be with Grant Hall and Alex Baptiste still sidelined – but if the 31-year-old is only semi-fit, he could struggle to contain the unrelenting tenacity of Lewis Grabban.
Given that QPR have taken just two points from seven away games against teams above the bottom five, conceding 16 goals in that sample, there is reason to be concerned for them defensively.
Value with the hosts
Nottingham Forest have won four of their seven home games against teams below them in the table and therefore look good value for the victory here at odds-against quotes.
While QPR are having a good season and look well on course to meet chairman Amit Bhatia’s target of survival, they could endure yet another challenging afternoon on Trentside.
Tip: Nottingham Forest to win –