QPR v Burnley
The Championship is finally back after this unusual winter break for the World Cup and the early kick off on Sunday afternoon sees Burnley travel to London to face a managerless QPR. The home side had been dreaming of a top six or even top two finish after the early stages of the season but recent results have put a halt to that and they come into this with one point in five games and without a manager. The visitors have been the best side in the division so far this season and their league position shows that with only one loss in their last 18. Both teams will be without key attacking players with Ilias Chair and Anass Zaroury both being in Qatar as peripheral figures in the Moroccan side that has surprisingly reached the quarter final.
The QPR board are in the process of finding a new manager for the second time in six months having appointed Mick Beale over the summer. However, they were perhaps too successful in their choice and Beale guided them to the top of the table in mid-October before rumours of a move to Wolves materialised. He said that he wanted to stay at the club but has subsequently left soon after. Since the rumours of the move to the midlands, they only picked up one point in five games and he has gone on to replace Giovanni van Bronckhorst at Rangers over the World Cup break. They will have been relieved for the few weeks off and will hope that this can kickstart the season. Other than the Moroccan Chair, who has three goals and six assists this season, they will have everyone available – including Seny Dieng who returned from Qatar having been knocked out in the round of 16 with Senegal.
If QPR were pleased to have the break, Burnley most certainly weren’t. In all competitions, they had won eight of their last ten, losing only one to a very strong Sheffield United side. They have scored 40 goals in their 21 games and Vincent Kompany is proving to be a very shroud appointment as they transition from the Sean Dyche style of football that many associate with Burnley. Before the break, they bounced back from the poor performance at Bramall Lane by continuing their excellent recent form in the East Lancashire Derby with a commanding 3-0 win over Blackburn. Whilst they won’t have Zaroury for this one as he is in the Middle East, they have a more than competent replacement with Nathan Tella on the left-hand side with Manuel Benson likely to be on the right. They have no injury concerns but could welcome back Ashley Westwood who’s yet to play this season due to an ankle injury and new signing Scott Twine is back in contention for the Clarets. Kompany’s main dilemma will be up top between Ashley Barnes, who scored a brace in the derby, and top goalscorer Jay Rodriguez who picked up a knock in a win over Rotherham.
QPR come into this on a terrible run of form and without a manager. The early season optimism that had build has been sucked out of the club slowly over the past two months and whoever the new manager is will want to hit the ground running because they still sit in the playoffs, which is higher than where most people had them to finish at the start of the season. However, whilst they were excellent early in the season, what will concern the fans more than the results is the performances.
Over the last six games, they have conceded at least one expected goal in each, and have only amassed over one non penalty expected goal once in that time, losing on nPxG in the other five games. They might further struggle to create chances here without Ilias Chair who has 6.5 expected assists so far this season – over three times the amount of any other player. His expected goals contributions per 90 (0.53) is only bettered by Lyndon Dykes, who has also had three penalties to boost his numbers. If pre-break form is anything to go by, then there is reason for QPR fans to be pessimistic going into this one.
Burnley look like the best team in the Championship and seem to be heading straight back up to the Premier League having been relegated last season. Following a slow start with just one win in their first five games, they have won ten of their sixteen games since, losing just once. Kompany will be delighted not only of their five-point gap over Blackburn in third, but with their performances too. In their last 11, they have scored 17.8 expected goals at an average of 1.62 expected goals per game.
Defensively they’ve been solid too, with statistics suggesting that they should concede less than a goal per game. Even more impressively, if you take out that very poor showing at Bramall Lane – where they conceded 5.05 expected goals – they average just 0.59 xGA per game – proving that they’re tough to beat, particularly with their attacking flair up top.
They should be more capable of dealing with the loss of Zaroury than QPR with Chair with Nathan Tella coming in. First games of the season can be very tough to predict and this is no different, however, given how good Burnley were, and how poor QPR were before the break, I think there is value here at over Evens.
Nathan Tella was dropped for Burnley’s derby against Blackburn before the break and he can feel hard done by that he didn’t start that game. However, here he will have a point to prove to force his way back into the side, and given that Zaroury won’t play here, this might be the perfect opportunity for him to do so. The Southampton loanee has six goals this season and has consistently high shot numbers. He has managed 34 shots so far this season and at least three in three of his last five starts. 13 of these shots have been on target and he managed one in just 20 minutes against Blackburn in their last game. He should be nailed on to play at least 70 minutes given that Morocco have progressed to the quarter-finals, and he will sense a real opportunity here to prove to Vincent Kompany what he can do.
He is likely to play on the left here with Zaroury out and will face attacking full back Ethan Laird, who is on loan from Manchester United. More and more teams in the Championship have started deploying two striker formations with no traditional wingers but QPR have faced three left wingers in their last ten and Marcelino Nunez, Grady Diangana, Brandon Thomas-Asante and Ben Jackson all managed a shot for QPR’s opponents.
Given Tella’s high shot averages, and his desperation to impress here, a shot on target at 5/6 seems very generous for the winger.
Burnley have scored the most goals this season, racking up 40 already at a rate of almost two per game. This is not a surprise with the firepower they have up top, but they have applied pressure in every one of their games. They have had at least nine shots in each of their last ten games, with 130 attempts on goal in that period. Of these, 44 have been on target, averaging 4.4 per game, including a massive eight against Blackburn and nine against Rotherham. They will be hoping to dominate possession again here which should see them able to create plenty of chances.
In QPR’s recent poor form, they have conceded a lot more shots. In their last six, they have conceded 65 shots, and in each of their last two they have conceded five shots on target, including against a poor Huddersfield side here. Burnley should be able to create much more than Huddersfield and with their front three, they should be able to manage to have four shots on target.
Ethan Laird’s shot stats may not look the best on paper with only 14 shots in 17 games, but his home record makes for much more positive reading. 13 of the 14 shots have come at home in just nine games, and he managed two shots at home to Huddersfield last time they were at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. He has had 2+ shots in five of their nine home games and there will be more onus on him to attack and create here without Chair.
Burnley have only conceded shots to right backs in five of their last ten games, but most of these have been on the road and last time on their travels, George Baldock even managed a shot on target for Sheffield United. I think that there is value here again given that Laird likes to venture forward at home.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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