QPR vs Spurs is up next for us in the Premier League, so we take a look at what to expect from Chris Ramsey’s side.
Harry Redknapp jumping ship at the end of the transfer window has left QPR in a real predicament. Chris Ramsey has been put in charge till the end of the season and although he is trying to implement some changes, a lot of the old problems remain.
So, what can we expect and what should we be on the lookout for in QPR vs Spurs on Saturday? Here are 5 keys to the game.
1. Where QPR concede
Most teams have a weakness in their defence, a vulnerability that the opposition can successfully exploit.
With QPR the problems they have had with shipping goals from all angles has been a constant throughout the season. It is still to change since Chris Ramsey took over and has been compounded by playing a semi high-ish line under the new manager.
With their either ageing or sluggish centre backs, Rangers are vulnerable to the ball played in-behind. With their chopping and changing of average or inexperienced full backs, they have also been vulnerable to teams that get beyond them to square or pull the ball back.
QPR’s last two opponents at home have exposed both of these situations in different ways. Southampton went over the top to use the speed of Mane and Elia against the much slower Steven Caulker and Richard Dunne.
On Wednesday night, Arsenal went at the inexperienced full backs of Yun Suk-Young and Darnell Furlong.
The one constant that has been there is QPR’s susceptibility to conceding through their inside right channel. Southampton were looking to run in-behind, but eventually broke the deadlock, as Maya Yoshida found Sadio Mane with a simple pass through this avenue.
Arsenal also opened the scoring as Alexis Sanchez got in to this same space to release Kieran Gibbs. The full back’s deflected cross/shot was prodded home by Olivier Giroud.
Sanchez also had another shot from the same channel, which was well saved by Robert Green down at his near post. Later, he and Giroud robbed the centre back and made a mess of what was a clean through opportunity on keeper in this channel also.
QPR’s vulnerability through here is nothing new, it’s a channel we got in to time and again in Spurs 4 QPR 0 at the Lane. Three of our four goals came through here and it should be the focus of the Tottenham tactics for QPR vs Spurs once again.
2. Stopping the right side
Since Chris Ramsey has taken over, QPR have become a side that heavily attacks down the right. Just as he did when at Spurs during Tim Sherwood’s reign, Ramsey is trying to get them to become more of a crossing team. The focus is on moving the ball to Matthew Phillips and his right back in order to deliver in to the box.
Arsenal were effective at either clearing the crosses through Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista (later Laurent Koscielny). Or they stopped the ball coming in by making tackles and interceptions at source out on the right side.
Southampton were a bit more aggressive in their approach in their visit to Loftus Road. The Saints also cleared the crosses away through Jose Fonte and Florin Gardos, but they forced QPR back up the line through tackling.
With Rangers attempting 68% of their crosses so far during Ramsey’s reign from the right flank, this will be a key battleground in QPR vs Spurs on Saturday. The selection of players down our left and how aggressive they are to stopping it will go a long way in who emerges victorious.
3. Press or lure out?
QPR have been a front foot team all season at home, trying to get their crowd going and to feed off them.
What’s been interesting is that both Arsenal and Southampton played on the counter attack when they visited Loftus Road. This drew QPR’s backline up the field whereby their lack of pace in the centre back positions and the inexperience of their full backs could be exposed.
Mauricio Pochettino’s high pressing style has been in evidence with increasing frequency as the season has gone on and the players’ fitness has improved. His inclusion of a powerful player at the number ten position in Mousa Dembele has improved the intensity of our ball recovery. While the pressing game could overwhelm QPR on Saturday, he may also need to consider drawing them up the field if it doesn’t. Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Harry Kane can all run in-behind against their slower defence and so this would make a good plan B to have up his sleeve.
4. Set pieces
QPR are a big side and have been a threat from set pieces all season, especially corners.
Due to their possession, they have taken the fifth fewest corners in the Premier League this term. However, they manage to find their targets when taking them, with only West Ham managing to get more shots away from corners this season.
Under Harry Redknapp, QPR would try and get two men at the near post (F), three in the middle (C) and one at the back post to clear up (B).
Under Chris Ramsey they go for just one man at the near post (F), one in the centre (C), but three at the back (B). Plus they use a sweeper on the edge of the box.
Just like dealing with their crossing, coping with their corners will be a key area to QPR vs Spurs on Saturday.
Not a game seems to go by for Spurs recently without talking about silly errors giving away chances and goals. After the Liverpool, West Ham and Fiorentina games saw us gift goals through defensive lapses, we also gave Chelsea and Swansea a helping hand.
The reason this is so important is that QPR have also gifted chances and goals to the opposition. Steven Caulker’s dawdling on the ball and then turning it over on Wednesday night was a prime example. So far this season we’ve committed 16 defensive errors that have led to a chance in the Premier League according to OPTA, whereas QPR have made 20. The winner on Saturday may just be the side that makes the least mistakes.
QPR vs Spurs outlook
QPR have won just 1 of their last 10 Premier League matches, losing seven, which should mean they are their for the taking. However, we have only beaten them at Loftus Road once in our last six attempts and so nothing can be taken for granted.
Selection of speed players is essential here to get in-behind and beyond their back line. Whether we attack the space behind their centre backs or look to get beyond their full backs and square the ball, chances will be there for us if we play this right.
QPR vs Spurs prediction: QPR 1 Spurs 2.
QPR vs Spurs betting
With early goals and also Nacer Chadli’s propensity to pop up behind opposition defences on counter attacks, these dominate my bets this weekend.