Talking Tactics | Queens Park Rangers v Swansea City
After securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over Preston on Saturday, Swansea City return to league duties tonight for their rescheduled meeting with QPR. Ahead of the game in London, WhoScored.com preview the Championship clash.
What to expect from QPR
After a couple of setbacks in December that saw QPR fall to home defeats to Stoke and Bournemouth, the R's look back on track and come into this rescheduled welcome of Swansea on a four-match winning run. That streak has lifted QPR to within five points of second-placed Blackburn ahead of one of their two games in hand on Tony Mowbray's side.
With patience, QPR have re-established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in England's second tier. Mark Warburton has been crucial to their rise up the table with the west London side one of the more entertaining sides in the Championship. 40 goals scored is the fourth best in the division, but in turn; 31 goals conceded is level with 19th-placed Hull.
It means that all of QPR's statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths focus on attacking, whereas every weakness is a defensive one. Like many Championship sides, Warburton uses a three-man backline with the onus on the wing-backs, notably Albert Adomah, to get forward and provide the width. Adomah averages more dribbles per game (2.2) than any other QPR player, and ranks fourth for key passes per game (1.2).
There's a solid midfield base with Stefan Johansen key, though the QPR captain is a doubt for tonight's game, and this allows the wing-backs to push on, safe in the knowledge that the R's goal is well protected. Yet even so, the three QPR centre-backs are well versed in the demands that come with keeping opponents at bay with all but one - Jordy de Wijs (6.96) - of the four defenders Warburton has used in the league this season earning a WhoScored.com rating of 7.00 or above.
Crucially is that QPR aren't dependant on just one out and out goalscorer to fire them to glory. A total of 13 players have scored a league goal for the R's this season, with the goals coming from everywhere, which has been key in their promotion push. The Swans, then, need to keep their wits about them at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium tonight.
Swansea would love nothing more than a repeat of the scoreline from their most recent visit to QPR. The Swans returned to south Wales with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe. However, it was Matt Grimes who earned the WhoScored.com man of the match award on Boxing Day in 2020 having garnered a rating of 7.66. That victory marked just one of 10 star man awards Grimes has won since the start of the 2018/19 Championship season and was also his best rated away display since the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
QPR adopt a similar style of play as Swansea in that they look to hold onto the ball more than their opponents. A possession return of 54.9% is the fifth best in the division, a metric topped by Swansea (66.1%) so it's important that they keep the ball from the R's as much as possible to minimise QPR's chances of landing a fifth successive league victory. Grimes will be crucial in that regard having developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing', with an average of 104.2 passes per game the most in the Championship.
That will then limit Chris Willock's chances of adding to his six goals and seven assists this season. Willock earned the WhoScored.com man of the match award in QPR's 2-1 win over Coventry at the weekend, as a pair of assists saw him yield a rating of 8.40. That said, the 23-year-old has saved his best performances for on the road with the young attacker only recently ending a six-game run without a goal or assist in a home match.
QPR have one of the better away records in the division and at home they have been tough to break down. Granted they have scored just one goal in their last three home league games, but a key aspect has been their solid defensive resolve. Only West Brom (6) have conceded fewer home goals than QPR (11) this season and it's clear that Swansea will have their work cut out to come away from the capital with all the spoils.