Queens Park Rangers 2 (Oteh 23 pen, Bidwell 75)
Leeds United 1 (Halme 25)
There’s no point getting upset about this defeat – we all know the Championship is the real prize this season and there was always the possibility that the FA Cup would merely prove to be a distraction from the main prize, a distraction we just don’t need at the moment. Neither should we dwell on the fact that we have now racked up three defeats on the bounce as this team had few similarities to our regular starting XI as Marcelo took the opportunity to rest some of the key players while giving important competitive game time to those who usually only get as far as the bench or the under 23s.
So, all we can really do is treat this as a one off game and assess what positives or negatives we witnessed.
The big positive for me was the performance of Bailey Peacock-Farrell who made a string of fine saves throughout the game and had, I thought, one of his best games, and this coming at a time when he is firmly in the spotlight as one of the weaknesses in the side. If ever Bailey and we needed a strong performance from him to boost his own confidence and our confidence in him, this was it and he delivered.
Other than that one negative was that despite this being a very makeshift defence, there were glaring similarities from the one we’ve seen in recent Championship games; it was fragile to use Marcelo’s own terminology. Yet again it was a header in our own box that lost us the game and I can’t help thinking it came about due to the fact that Bielsa decided to remove the tall figure of Aapo Halme from it at half time. With the prospect of the home side bringing on Matt Smith, who we saw Halme deal with quite well not that long ago, it was a change I didn’t understand other than the fact that Halme was on a booking and maybe, Marcelo has an eye on him for up-coming Derby game to partner with Pontus as the way around the enforced absence of Kalvin Phillips.
As for the game itself, I felt there wasn’t much in it – with the QPR side also bearing little resemblance to their regular Championship side. Leeds were in it throughout and but for the two errors might have come away with a win or the draw which might have eaten up another game of Kalvin’s ban! Having said that, no one out there today really made any real claim on achieving more than a walk on role for the rest of the season. Tyler Roberts looked OK in the number ‘10’ role but he is not the answer to the loss of Samu Sáiz or, God forbid, any future loss of Pablo Hernandez. Even the usual impact of Jack Clarke was less potent in this company without the likes of Pablo to create the openings he needs to feed on.
So, we move on to the big game against “Frank Lampard’s Derby” as that side now seems to be universally known and the question remains as to how we will cope with the absence of Kalvin Phillips from the side as his ban continues. One thing is certain though, we must find an answer and we must come up with a positive result this time… or the doubts really will start to have some foundation.
QPR Leeds Utd
Possession 45% 55%
Shots 16 9
On Target 10 7
Corners 11 9
Fouls 14 11