West London Sport Reporter David McIntyre spoke to us previewing Barnsley’s clash with Queens Park Rangers – here’s the view from the opposition camp.
The Reds take on the R’s in the second of two matches at Oakwell this week, as they look to make it four points out of a possible six, following a 1-1 draw with Reading on Wednesday night.
Cauley Woodrow saw his second half opener cancelled out by Reading’s Lucas João in the 76th minute, as the Royals fought back to earn a point in midweek.
However, Barnsley will be hoping to keep their good home form going of late, as Head Coach Gerhard Struber aims to maintain his unbeaten streak at Oakwell and lift the Reds off the bottom of the table.
As for QPR, they were also involved in midweek action, beating Birmingham City 2-0 at St Andrews to make it two straight wins in the Sky Bet Championship.
One of the R’s surprise standout performers this season, Grant Hall, was on target again for them on Wednesday, in a result which saw them climb the table to 12th and three points off the play-offs.
The Reds know they will have to be on top form in attack to get past the red-hot Hall, who has not only been scoring goals for QPR, but has also been a solid figure in defence for them so far this campaign.
His strong, vocal presence has been key in establishing a good relationship within the R’s backline, allowing them to keep two clean sheets in their previous two matches.
“In many ways the captain, Grant Hall, has been the surprise package this season, given that he had persistent knee trouble for a long time but has re-established himself as a first-team regular,” said West London Reporter McIntyre.
He continued: “QPR's away form has been good - beating Birmingham this week was a fifth away win of the season. Until very recently I'd have said Barnsley could feel optimistic because Rangers have looked vulnerable at the back.
“But, having not kept a clean sheet this season until last week's win against Preston, they've now kept two in a row. So, I think QPR will feel pretty confident.”
A Mark Warburton side typically likes to play expansive, exciting football, focusing on building up from the back, something Barnsley will have to be wary of when QPR are in possession of the football.
McIntyre said: “He very much favours a possession-based game, building from the back. He has used a number of formations already this season but is generally a fan of 4-2-3-1, which seems to suit QPR's attacking strengths.”
However, despite QPR typically being good on the ball, the West London Sport Reporter also mentioned the vulnerabilities Warburton’s side has faced at times this season when it comes to employing the 4-2-3-1, possession-based tactic.
He said: “Rangers' defenders and goalkeeper are not always comfortable playing the way Warburton wants. They can be vulnerable to a high press,” something Barnsley may look to exploit with their quick attacking players.
Although, the way QPR will try get around that possible floor, is by attempting to keep the ball away from the opposition as much as possible, so they can get their attacking players in decent positions in and around the edge of the penalty area.
Creative midfielder Ebere Eze has been at the forefront of QPR’s attack so far this season, with nine goals and four assists to his name, so he will be sure to make himself a handful once again this weekend.
“Ebere Eze has been one of the best players this year. The number 10 shirt is iconic at QPR, having been worn by the likes of Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Simon Stainrod, John Byrne, Roy Wegerle and more recently Adel Taarabt. Eze is very much in that mould and a joy to watch when in full flow.”
McIntyre added: “I think QPR will look to frustrate Barnsley by keeping the ball and trying to make the most of any chances which come their way.
“I expect Warburton to bring youngster Ilias Chair back into the side in place of Marc Pugh, who has started recent games. Angel Rangel might also be recalled. So, Lumley, Kane or Rangel, Leistner, Hall, Manning, Cameron, Amos, Osayi-Samuel, Chair, Eze, Wells.”
With the way QPR set-up and play, the West London Sport Reporter says the feeling around Loftus Road at the moment is a positive one, as they look to secure themselves a play-off spot and regain their Premier League status.
“With a couple of wins after a recent poor run, things seem to be back on track. Many fans are pleased to see a young side which plays entertaining football.
“This game will be a tough one to call, but I'll go for 1-1.”