Queens Park Rangers will be reflecting on their performances so far this season and assessing where they are at during the international break ahead of the end-of-season run-in.
Overall, you would have to suggest it has been a campaign of progression so far for the Hoops, with Mark Warburton’s side looking like they could even secure a top-half finish which has alluded them in the last few campaigns.
The club have not finished in the top half of the division since a 12th place finish during the 2015/16 campaign, which was their first back in the Championship.
The Rs will now be aiming for a strong ending to the campaign and try and pick up as many points as possible in their remaining nine matches.
That would enable them to take some confidence into next term and potentially help with their recruitment over the summer. The transfer window will be crucial in terms of building on the progress they have been making this term.
Here then, we take a look at THREE things we’ve clearly learned about the Rs this term…
QPR have become more of a balanced side
Last season, QPR were one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the Championship, with the Rs managing to score the fifth most amount of goals in the entire division with 67. They also though shipped the third most amount of goals with 76 conceded. That is something that reflected perhaps the sheer gap in quality between their attacking players and their defensive-minded options.
Warburton is a manager that likes his side to be on the front foot when they can be and try and take the game to opponents. However, this term without the influential presence of the likes of Eberechi Eze, Nahki Wells and Bright Osayi-Samuel (for the second half of the campaign, the Rs have had to shift more focus on keeping teams out more often to pick up points.
The balance that has been found in the side is reflected by the fact that to date QPR have only managed to register 39 league goals. That is some contrast to last term where they had scored 59 goals by their 37th league game. While Warburton’s side have also shipped just 43 goals so far, compared with 62 at this stage of the last campaign.
Charlie Austin has been hugely important since his arrival
Another thing we have learned about QPR this term is the importance of finding a forward in the January transfer window with experience and quality to guide some of the younger attacking talents at the club. Warburton’s side managed to find that by re-signing Austin on loan from West Brom and it is an addition that has helped to massively improve their form.
At one stage in the season, it had been reported that the Hoops were considering parting company with Warburton. That came as QPR were on a difficult run of form and they were struggling to move away from the bottom end of the table. However, since Austin arrived the club have climbed from 19th place in the table all the way up into the top half.
The experienced forward has managed to fire in six goals in 15 Championship appearances (Sofascore), and the Rs have managed to win nine of those 15 games in comparison with just four wins in their opening 22 matches of the campaign. It is no coincidence that their form has so dramatically improved with the West Brom loanee in the side and they need to make his move a permanent one.
Ilias Chair has started to become the main man for QPR
Another thing we have learned about the Hoops so far this term is that Ilias Chair is beginning to establish himself as QPR’s go-to player to make things happen in the final third. Last term, the 23-year-old produced four goals and six assists during his 41 Championship appearances but he was often in the shadow of both Osayi-Samuel and Eze and made just 26 starts (Sofascore).
This season though, Warburton has placed his full faith in Chair and given him the license to float around in the attacking third and try and make a difference for QPR. The 23-year-old has managed to average 1.3 shots and 1.7 key passes per game and has registered seven league goals and two assists (Sofascore), which makes him the club’s top scorer at the moment.
Chair has shown real development so far this campaign in terms of his ability to get himself into better positions in the final third. The attacking midfielder will likely be a hugely important figure for them next term, when they will try and build a side capable of battling for promotion to the Premier League.