Wycombe have a big month ahead in the lead up to the FA Cup clash with Tottenham. Saturday is no exception, as the Chairboys travel to West London to take on Queens Park Rangers looking to seize three points, after the previous encounter in December ended 1-1.
Ahead of matchday, we spoke to QPR fan and collaborator on The QPR Podcast (@TheQPRPod) Flo Lloyd-Hughes about what we might expect from the newly strengthened Mark Warburton side this weekend.
QPR currently sit six places above the Chairboys in the Championship table. What has their recent form been like going into Saturday?
QPR’s recent form has not been good. Things finally turned around on Tuesday night against Luton as they managed a 2-0 win away from home against one of the league’s surprise packages of the season. Up until that point Rangers were without a win in 10, with six of those games ending in defeat. It was only their second away win of the season and first since 4th November.
Our two sides met previously in December, as a Wycombe own goal in the first half was cancelled out by a late Anis Mehmeti equaliser. What did you make of that encounter?
It was a frustrating game as most fans had seen it as a huge opportunity to end the extremely poor run of results. I think the team definitely underestimated Wycombe and in the end were a bit lucky to come away with a point. Wycombe showed far more spirit, desire and fight than QPR did across the 90 minutes, something which is typical of the Chairboys under Ainsworth and something Rangers fans long for.
January matches are also shadowed by the transfer window and the Rs have brought in Charlie Austin from West Brom, who scored and received player of the match in your 2-0 win against Luton. Do you see him having a big impact on Saturday’s game?
He seems to have had a huge impact already, especially in his influence on QPR’s main summer signing Lyndon Dykes. Dykes has struggled since making the move from Scotland but looked much happier in a support role with Austin on Tuesday. Austin’s injury history is worrying, and he will need to be managed closely to ensure QPR can get the most out of his second spell at the club, but the energy certainly seemed different on Tuesday evening so hopefully his presence is enough to spark others into action.
He only managed 59 minutes against Luton and probably won’t play a full 90 minutes during this loan spell, but if he can still harness that striker’s instinct and poach goals then QPR will be free of any relegation threat. The important thing is to make the most of him while he can play and help create a bit of space between Rangers and the sides below.
Who do you think will be the biggest threat from the Wycombe side?
Joe Jacobson is always a threat. He’s the sort of player QPR are crying out for. I’m sure David Wheeler (pictured, top) will come back to haunt us too. It never quite worked out for him at QPR and I wish we had tried harder to fit him into the team. We seem to like signing rated players from the lower divisions and never finding a place for them, playing them in the right position or in a style that suits them.
If you were Mark Warburton, who’d be making up your starting-11?
Up until Austin returned, Warburton had pretty much stuck with 4-3-2-1 or 5-4-1, bar the occasional experiment with Macauley Bonne and Dykes up top together. Now that Austin is here, and fit to play, we’ll stick with two up top, but we’ll still play a pretty defensive midfield. Bright Osayi-Samuel was deployed at left wing-back on Tuesday night which shows the issues with that position. I imagine Warburton will stick with most of the line up from that Luton game but perhaps put Bright into his more favoured position in midfield and then Niko Hamalainen in at left back, which would mean Dom Ball may drop out and Geoff Cameron would sit in defensive midfield. It could be five at the back if Warburton is feeling cautious.
Any early team news from the Rs that we might’ve missed?
It will all be about Austin’s recovery as he tries to get back into the swing of ‘Saturday-Tuesday’ life. Fingers crossed for no COVID-19 cases; the club has managed it really well so far so hopefully that continues. Lee Wallace and Osman Kakay will probably still be out. Luke Amos is sadly out for the season after suffering an ACL injury back in October.
With all that in mind, what’s your score prediction?
QPR 2-0 Wycombe….eek.
Saturday’s game will certainly be one to watch. Both teams will be looking to right the wrongs of December’s tie and come away with the spoils. Thank you to Flo for sharing her insight on the Rs, although we don’t quite agree on the score prediction!
You can follow all of the action on iFollow, with the match kicking off at 3pm.