Relegation-haunted Sheffield Wednesday hope to pick up where they left off on Easter Monday in a crunch clash with QPR on Saturday. Mark O'Haire shares his best bet.
"Goals have rarely been regular when Sheffield Wednesday have been involved"
QPR v Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday April 10, 15:00
QPR fall short at Forest
Mark Warburton admitted his QPR team were well short of their best against Nottingham Forest on Easter Monday. Rangers' performance in their 3-1 defeat at the City Ground was a huge disappointment after a convincing 3-0 win against Coventry on Good Friday. But the R's boss insisted his players deserve credit for their strong showing during 2021.
Warburton said, "There's no shouting and screaming. We've been on a really good run and they deserve enormous credit. But what we have to do is recognise the importance of maintaining standards. If standards drop slightly at this level, you get hurt. You can't afford to be slightly off of it. And I thought today (Monday) we were slightly off of it."
QPR were punished for their shoddy mistakes in an all-too familiar defeat at the City Ground. Alex Mighten, Lewis Grabban and James Garner scored for Nottingham Forest, where Rangers have won just once in the club's history. Lyndon Dykes scored a consolation goal for the visitors in the final seconds - a header from Albert Adomah's cross.
Wednesday produce eye-catching effort
Sheffield Wednesday produced their best performance of the season on Easter Monday as the Owls dismantled play-off-chasing Cardiff 5-0 at Hillsborough. Wednesday were out of the traps like greyhounds, scoring three unanswered goals before half-time via Julian Börner, Callum Paterson and Adam Reach, and continued their assault in the second period.
With manager Darren Moore still unable to attend after testing positive for COVID, Jamie Smith stepped up to lead the Owls and admitted he expected a 5-0 thrashing from his side, Wednesday's first for 10 years. Speaking post-match, Smith said: "I wasn't expecting that, but we know we have quality in the group. They have set the standards now."
The victory, which completed Wednesday's first league double over Cardiff since the 1983-84 season, lifts the Owls off the foot of the Championship table. The guests are six points from survival with seven league fixtures to play and Smith reiterated the point the Owls would continue "fighting for their lives" in their battle to preserve second-tier status.
Remarkably, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday share a symmetrical W9-D9-L9 head-to-head record when viewing league fixtures since the start of this century, with each of the duos past three meetings ending in a win apiece and a stalemate. Rangers do hold a slight upper-hand in matches in West London during that sequence, posting W5-D5-L3.
QPR 2.265/4 rank fourth for points per-game earned in the Championship in 2021 with the Super Hoops registering W10-D2-L5 this calendar year to move into the top-half of the table. January signings such as Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen have made a major impact on Mark Warburton's men, who have claimed six wins in their last eight at home.
Sheffield Wednesday's 3.6013/5 impressive destruction of Cardiff was only the Owls' seventh success against sides outside of the bottom-six this season. The visitors have proven particularly poor travellers this term, being turned over in 14 of 20 games as guests, scoring just 13 goals. However, there have been signs of progress under Darren Moore's watch.
QPR's improvements have been visible in both boxes. However, the guests have solidified their defensive foundations and kept opponents to no more than a solitary strike in five of their 23-game spell since early December. A hefty 15 of those fixtures paid out for Under 2.5 Goals 1.784/5 backers and a repeat could be on the cards in the capital on Saturday.
Goals have rarely been regular when Sheffield Wednesday have been involved. The Owls have fired blanks in 41% of their league fixtures, averaging only 0.65 goals per-game outside of their Hillsborough base. Improvements have been made defensively during the current upturn under Darren Moore, mind, suggesting a low-scoring clash is the way forward here.
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