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Championship Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs Nottingham Forest

Loftus Road, Saturday 12th April 2014 12:22 kick off

Form (Last 8 Championship games)

Queens Park Rangers- LLDWWLWL

Nottingham Forest- DLDLLDDL

  • QPR enter Saturday’s game needing a win to arrest recent back to back defeats away at Blackburn and Bournemouth whilst also pursuing their first win in three games. Meanwhile, Forest are currently at the bottom of the Championship form table without a win in 11 games and, despite coming from 3-1 down to draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, the Reds remain in a deep rut.
  • When the two sides met in late December, Forest got the better of the R’s with a Greg Halford header and a late, controversial  Andy Reid strike. But expect a different game this time round, The Reds are completely bereft of confidence whilst Rangers are Play-Off certainties.
  • QPR also have a formidable home record, losing just twice at Loftus Road this season they will undoubtedly be looking to extend that positive run against a shaky, makeshift Reds’ back line. Forest did manage a point in their last visit to the West Londoners with a 1-1 stalemate.

Many will see the Play-Offs as a disappointment this season for Queens Park Rangers. Their first Championship campaign after two years in the big time hasn’t gone exactly to plan. The season promised so much early on as they racked up eight wins from their first 10 games and, with the constant flow of goals from summer signing Charlie Austin, they looked a safe bet for automatic promotion. However, in recent months the Rs have slipped up on regular occasions against fellow promotion hopefuls. Defeats to the likes of Derby, Forest and Leicester have raised doubts of their ability to step up for the big occasions.

Obviously, the loss of Charlie Austin has been huge for Rangers. The replacements have failed to step up to the plate when needed and provide the goals needed to keep in touch with free-scoring Burnley and Leicester. Bobby Zamora, Kevin Doyle and Andrew Johnson have just 6 goals between them whilst Austin has 15 on his own; the problem is clear to see. Consequently, QPR’s season now restarts in May, with the Play-Offs. With no realistic chance of gaining automatic promotion and with a top six finish all but secured they will have time to fully prepare for the end of season lottery.

Despite the slightly anti-climatic season for QPR, they still harbour high hopes in the Play-offs and stand as good a chance as anyone to gain promotion. If they can put a run of positive results together entering the final month of the regular campaign, they most certainly will be a tricky tie for the team who oppose them.

Forest have faced yet another difficult week. Rumours of financial problems, another injury setback coinciding with a disappointing time on the pitch have put the club into further turmoil and an increasing possibility of missing out on the Play-Offs. The Reds need a result from somewhere, performances aren’t the concern at this stage of the season; all they need on Saturday, and in future weeks, is the three points.

This past week Forest’s poor home from has been re-iterated with, firstly, a loss to lowly Millwall and, then, struggling to a point on Tuesday against Sheffield Wednesday.  Last Saturday was a sobering experienced for even the most hardened Reds fan, 2-0 down at home against 23rd in the league (no disrespect to Millwall) simply is not good enough. There was a boost in the second half as the returning Henri Lansbury gave a typical no nonsense performance instilled with fight and passion, however it was not enough and Forest slumped to a 2-1 defeat. The City Ground faithful were shocked again on Tuesday as they fell 3-1 down to the Owls. This time, though, they had enough in the tank to haul back the two goal deficit (even after Danny Collins was given a second yellow card) after a Jamie Paterson wonder strike sent the Reds fans home relieved, if not happy.

This weekend’s game poses a completely different challenge for Gary Brazil’s side. They travel south knowing a win could fire them right back into the Play-Off picture and inject some much needed confidence for the run in. They know it won’t be easy, Forest’s blunt forward line will have to find a way through the solid QPR defence whilst the back four will need to be at their best to nullify the likes of Ravel Morrison and David Hoilett. Nothing less than 110% will be required  if they wish to aid their promotion push with a win.

Given the situations at both clubs I can’t see past a QPR win come Saturday. I don’t see enough energy and mobility in the Forest midfield to contain Rangers and it could be another grim away day for the travelling fans. If the Reds are to come away with anything from Loftus Road they need former QPR favourite Jamie Mackie to be on top form, but even that may not be enough. My prediction is a 3-0 QPR win.

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