Mark O’Haire returns with a couple of midweek selections
R’s Rearguard To Be Tested Once Again This Week
Steve McClaren is adamant QPR can turn things around after slipping to a club-record seventh straight defeat with a 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough on Saturday. The former England boss was left frustrated on Teesside by two costly mistakes in the first half that Rangers failed to recover from.
The R’s were behind within two minutes and allowed Boro to double their advantage after half an hour of play at The Riverside. Despite a couple of strong saves from home goalkeeper Darren Randolph, QPR couldn’t get back into the contest and are now just nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Rangers have looked visibly leggy in 2019.
With a run to the Last 16 of the FA Cup, plus rescheduled Championship games being squeezed in, the hosts will now play their 16th match in 66 days on Tuesday against promotion-chasing Leeds at Loftus Road. With a small squad to select from, McClaren’s options are limited.
Leeds maintained their assault on a top-two finish by overcoming a spirited Bolton outfit at the weekend 2-1 at Elland Road. Marcelo Bielsa was concerned with his team’s defending from set-pieces against the Trotters, although few could argue that United didn’t deserve to take maximum points.
Nevertheless, Leeds have now leaked in all bar two of their 13 league outings since the start of December, as nine of those fixtures have featured at least three goals, suggesting there could be mileage in supporting another goal-heavy game this midweek. A healthy 10/16 (62%) of the visitors’ away days have already produced Over 2.5 Goals profit alongside a chunky 3.06 goals-per-game average.
QPR have conceded two goals or more in seven of their most recent eight Championship encounters, silencing three opponents since October – two of which are in the bottom-six of the division. Even so, Rangers provide enough attacking threat to hurt Leeds here, notching in 19 of their last 23 league matches.
Thirteen of the R’s last 17 league contests have seen the Over 2.5 Goals barrier cleared, as have 10/16 (62%) Loftus Road dates with those games delivering 3.06 goals-per-game, mirroring that of their guests on Tuesday night. It’s therefore surprising to see Over 2.5 Goals trading at an appetising 1.93.
Cottagers Leaking Goals And A Trip Down South May Not Offer Any Respite
Fulham remain eight points adrift of safety as we head into the final 11 Premier League games and an immediate return to the second-tier is looking increasingly likely. Wednesday night’s match-up with fellow strugglers Southampton could prove decisive in the Cottagers’ quest for survival with three of the Big Six in opposition in their following four fixtures.
The Londoners have been beaten in six of their past seven, meaning the capital club have just W2-D3-L9 of their last 14 league dates- those victories came when welcoming Huddersfield and Brighton to Craven Cottage – two teams at the bottom of the 12-game form table and renowned terrible travellers.
Indeed, Fulham hold the Premier League’s worst away record, picking up two points from a possible 42 (W0-D2-L12) and they’re operating off a 36% Expected Goals (xG) ratio on the road – only rock-bottom Huddersfield boast worse figures, whilst no top-flight team can match their woeful efforts in defence.
Over the course of the campaign, the Cottagers have lost 18 of 26 games and conceded twice or more on 21 occasions. Claudio Ranieri’s charges are giving up almost 2.00 xG per-game and have leaked two or more goals in all bar two away days, and at least three goals in half of their 14 road trips.
Against West Ham on Friday, Fulham faced 20 attempts inside the box and I’m not holding out too much hope that the visitors can stem that bleeding by the time they travel to Southampton. However, with the Saints enduring their own painful season – and offered at a similar price to West Ham – I’m happy to avoid the straight Match Odds market.
Instead, Over 2.5 Goals has to appeal at 1.95. As already mentioned, Fulham have conceded Over 2.5 Goals in half of their 14 away trips thus far with matches averaging 3.14 goals. And Saints have proven just as fruitful in the goals markets with 9/14 (69%) of St Mary’s matches crossing the Over 2.5 Goals whitewash.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has now presided over 12 games (W4-D3-L5) and a solitary shutout. Seven of those outings featured at least three goals, and nine banked for Both Teams To Score backers, so with Saints generating reasonable xG returns but also far from watertight at the back, I’m encouraged to see Over 2.5 Goals available to support at almost even-money (1.95) this midweek.
- QPR v Leeds – Over 2.5 Goals (1.93) – 3pt win
- Southampton v Fulham – Over 2.5 Goals (1.95) – 3pt win