Norwich City travel to Loftus Road on Wednesday night as they are hosted by Queens Park Rangers as we look to record a much-needed victory in our hunt for a place in the Championship playoffs.
At the time of writing, we currently sit in 10th after Friday night’s horror show at Middlesborough, QPR are down in 20th, only one point above the relegation zone.
When we hosted the R’s earlier in the season Dean Smith was in the dugout overlooking a 0-0 draw – which we arguably should’ve won late on after Grant Hanley hit the post in the 96th-minute.
We also haven’t lost to the Rs at Loftus Road since April 2018 when we lost 4-1 and have eight wins in the last 15 meetings alongside two defeats and five draws.
So, the past encounters and QPR’s dreadful form as of late may swing the odds in our favour but if we have a performance even the slightest bit similar to last Friday, Gareth Ainsworth will be dancing in his unbuttoned shirt and could get a huge result in their fight to stay up.
When I last wrote a match preview, we hosted Sheffield United and lost 1-0. Three games later, there are now only four games left and we arguably need to win every game left to stand a chance of playoffs. David Wagner has no other option now if we stand any chance.
I won’t even try and say what went wrong against Middlesborough, because everything did. But this game is a huge test for the mentality of our players. We have got to win this one, and we should be winning it.
QPR were top of the table back in October, but they have had a severe fall-off since the departure of Michael Beale to Rangers. Many predicted them for a rough campaign and that’s exactly what they’re experiencing.
The R’s have just six wins at home in their 21 games – and have only won twice in their last 20 Championship games. Say it with me now – “along come Norwich”.
They are now under the management of Ainsworth, a man who is more synonymous with his rockstar look and long hair than his football management, which probably says a lot about who QPR could appoint after sacking Neil Critchley.
Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Gunn; Aarons, Omobamidele, Sorenson, Giannoulis; Sara, Nunez; Idah, Sargent, Hernandez; Pukki
I would like to think Wagner will change his side, with Dimi Giannoulis expected to return at left-back.
Marcelino Nunez could replace Liam Gibbs in midfield, while Adam Idah may get a recall in the final third.
As we already know – Ben Gibson, Kenny McLean and Grant Hanley will remain absent for the rest of the season.
Queens Park Rangers (4-3-3): Dieng; Dunne, Dickie, Balogun, Paal; Dozzell, Johansen, Field; Willock, Dykes, Chair
While QPR were just one goal behind against Coventry until the 86th minute, Ainsworth could still tinkle with his starting eleven.
Chris Willock and Jamal Lowe are options in the final third, but Ilias Chair should keep his spot in the side with his 65th-minute withdrawal at the weekend due to Ainsworth wanting to manage his game time because of the Moroccan’s religious fasting for Ramadan.
Stefan Johansen may also be considered for a recall in the centre of the pitch, with Ainsworth potentially switching to a three-man midfield rather than a block of four.
Given how the squad has got to react to Friday night’s thumping at the Riverside Stadium, I’ve got a quiet confidence we’ll win this one.
However, both sides have just as big a reason to win as the other at Loftus Road.
At the same time, we may well drop points as we have had so many up-and-down periods as of late, but I think the gap in quality will play a big factor in making sure we get all three. Hopefully, the players have that same attitude.
The 2000+ away fans need to be bouncing for this fixture. I’m hoping that every City fan will be there backing the boys with every last part of their voice box as I strongly believe it will give our players an extra incentive to go out and win to please the travelling support.
So given all of that, I reckon we’ll win 2-0. But for all we know, Ainsworth could pull off a somewhat rare tactical masterclass and frustrate our team just like many other bottom-half sides have done. Or that doesn’t happen, and we blow them away.
So, would you make any changes to my starting XI? And do you fancy City picking up all three points on Wednesday night in the capital?
Let me know in our comment section below.