West London derbies between QPR and Fulham have been entertaining affairs in recent years and the stage is set for another cracking contest. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Backing Over 2.5 Goals would have seen punters collect in each of the last five meetings, as well as four of Rangers’ last five outings and seven of Fulham’s previous nine contests."
QPR v Fulham
Saturday 20th January, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports 1
Ian Holloway lost six of his first seven games after his return to QPR but three successive Championship triumphs against Wolves, Ipswich and Reading has drastically improved the mood around Loftus Road.
The Rangers boss was justifiably proud of his players after an interchanging 5-3-2/4-3-3 system helped to keep fourth-placed Reading in check at the Madejski Stadium - Grant Hall operating in a peculiar centre-half and centre-midfield position when in and out of possession.
Young midfielder Ryan Manning continues to earn rave reviews in the centre of the park and although Kazenga Lualua is pushing for a start, Holloway looks unlikely to change too much after the impressive performance at Reading.
Fulham make the short journey to W12 having suffered only two defeats in their last 12 league and cup games, both arriving against title-chasing Brighton in keenly-contested matches.
Slavisa Jokanovic's side overcame Barnsley comfortably in their most recent outing and won 2-0 at Ipswich on their previous road trip. However, the Cottagers haven't won back-to-back away fixtures since December 2014.
The Cottagers are without Floyd Ayite and Neeskens Kebano - both on African Cup of Nations duty - though Jokanovic is likely to name an unchanged starting XI following the beating of Barnsley.
Fulham 2.0811/10 have enjoyed the upper hand in recent skirmishes, bagging maximum points in three of their past four visits to Loftus Road. In fact, the Cottagers have claimed top honours in seven of their last nine meetings against the Hoops.
QPR 4.003/1 were victorious when the pair clashed at Craven Cottage back in October but the R's rode their luck in that encounter as Fulham missed two penalties and a sackful of excellent goalscoring opportunities.
The visitors have only suffered six (27%) defeats on their travels under Slavisa Jokanovic's watch with five of their seven triumphs games as guests under the Serbian head coach arriving this term.
Although QPR have posted an usually poor W4-D3-L6 return at Loftus Road in 2016/17, the R's newfound confidence and game-plan under Holloway makes the hosts dangerous prospects at a kind price.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
The majority of trends are pointing towards a low-scoring duel - nine of QPR's past 12 when welcoming top-half teams have featured Under 2.5 Goals and seven of Fulham's previous nine trips to bottom-half sides have followed suit.
But this fixture tends to produce plenty of goalmouth action. Backing Over 2.5 Goals 1.875/6 would have seen punters collect in each of the last five meetings, as well as four of Rangers' last five outings and seven of Fulham's previous nine contests.
With the Cottagers notching at least twice in six of their last seven, as well as in five of their 11 road trips, goals should be on the agenda. The visitors have only kept 4/22 (18%) away clean sheets under Jokanovic but have managed to find the back of the net themselves on 17 (77%) occasions.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.875/6