QPR impress on Teesside
QPR boss Mark Warburton reckons Rangers should be focused on finishing in the top-six this season after their unbeaten start to the season continued at Middlesbrough in midweek. The Rs have now won back-to-back away games to make it seven points from the opening nine after winning 3-2 at The Riverside in an entertaining encounter full of incident.
The Hoops had to do it the hard way on Teesside, falling behind to a seventh-minute penalty and also seeing defender Moses Odubajo sent off four minutes into the second half. But a Jonny Howson own goal and Lyndon Dykes strike turned the tables with the impressive Chris Willock adding the vital third after Boro had levelled proceedings in between.
Speaking post-match, Warburton said: "A QPR supporter wants to see progress in the team. We came 13th and 9th and we want to see progress. I would be foolish to say mid-table, we need to finish better than last year. We have to improve all the data points so therefore our aim has to be top six. We will be there or thereabouts if we deliver our performances."
Barnsley fail to fire
Barnsley were unable to recover from conceding a fourth-minute goal against Luton despite having 70% of the ball on Tuesday. It meant the Tykes suffered a first loss under new Austrian boss Markus Schopp, who bemoaned his lack of options and highlighted the uncharacteristic defensive mistakes that caused consternation in the Reds camp.
The Reds were without the injured Carlton Morris, and the Belgian strikers they signed this summer, Obbi Oulare and Aaron Iseka, are still not at the fitness levels Schopp demands. Without them, the hosts lacked the cutting edge to turn their possession into goals, generating just one Big Chance and an Expected Goals (xG) output of 1.10 at Oakwell.
Schopp said: "I guess we were defensively poor and we weren't as clinical as usual. That's definitely something we have to improve. Defensively we were too poor. I'm not used to that because our defensive line is usually our most important tool to defend. The good thing in this league is you don't have to think that much because you play again on Saturday."
QPR have not enjoyed their recent meetings with Barnsley, losing each of their last four head-to-head showdowns, conceding 12 goals in the process. The Tykes have won each of their last two trips to Loftus Road, having won just once in their previous 27 visits to Rangers, and the guests have succeeded in seven of their last nine league visits to London.
QPR 2.245/4 have won 52 points from 27 Championship games this calendar year, averaging 1.93 points per-game, with Mark Warburton's men tabled W2-D1-L0 in their first three fixtures of 2021/22. Rangers have impressed but the capital club will need to rest and rotate on Saturday following the short turnaround from the Middlesbrough match on Wednesday.
Barnsley 3.45 have enjoyed an extra day's preparation but are yet to find last term's play-off form under new head coach Markus Schopp (W1-D1-L1). Only four sides have produced a lower non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) figure and the Tykes have created just one Big Chance thus far. Key absentees in the final-third aren't helping the Reds' cause.
With right wing-back Moses Odubajo suspended, QPR may also need to plug gaps at left wing-back where Lee Wallace also unable to complete the 90 minutes in midweek. Captain Stefan Johansen may find the quick turnaround a little too soon and so the hosts' defensive set-up could require a re-think ahead of the early Saturday start.
Such backline woes should encourage a Barnsley side that's failed to fire in the opening exchanges of the new campaign. Nevertheless, the Reds have been on-target in two of three tussles, and only managed five shutouts in 24 Championship road trips dating back to the beginning of last term, suggesting going against the goals grain could be of interest.
Due to the relatively low underlying figures of both teams, the market is anticipating a low-scoring contest. However, the 1.9620/21 on Both Teams To Score holds plenty of appeal having considering the preferred style and approach from both coaches in charge.