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First team

Media View: Expert insight on QPR

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth and Queens Park Rangers put their respective unbeaten Championship records on the line when they do battle at Vitality Stadium on Tuesday (7.45pm kick-off).

The Cherries made it six games without defeat when they eased to a 3-0 win over Barnsley on Saturday, while QPR did likewise after drawing 3-3 at Reading.

It took a stirring comeback from Mark Warburton’s team at the Madejski Stadium, the visitors trailing 3-1 to John Swift’s hat-trick with just 11 minutes remaining.

Andre Gray came off the bench to reduce the arrears before new captain Stefan Johansen scored in the dying seconds to salvage a share of the points.

Johansen, who played with and under Scott Parker at Fulham, netted against the Cherries in QPR’s 2-1 win at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium last season.

Defender Rob Dickie currently leads the scoring charts having netted in their 1-1 draw with Millwall on the opening day and in a 3-0 win at Hull.

Dickie has also been on target in the first two rounds of the Carabao Cup against Leyton Orient and Oxford as the west Londoners have set up a third-round clash with Everton.

Another come-from-behind draw against Barnsley was sandwiched by wins against Middlesbrough and Coventry, taking QPR to fourth place in the table.

Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Ben Kosky who follows the fortunes of QPR in his capacity as a freelance journalist, working for West London Sport. Ben is also the author of Are You Rangers In Disguise?

QPR IN PROFILE

Ground: Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium

Nickname: Rangers/The Hoops

Manager: Mark Warburton (appointed May 2019)

Club captain: Stefan Johansen

Current league position: Fourth

Leading goalscorer 2021/22: Rob Dickie (four in all competitions)

Last game: Reading 3-3 QPR (Championship)

afcb.co.uk: Give us a summary of the 3-3 draw at Reading on Saturday?

BK: From a QPR point of view, it was a re-run of the 2-2 draw against Barnsley last month. They didn’t quite get into their stride until the last quarter of the game but made the right substitutions and finished strongly.

They could have ended up winning having been two goals down. A lot of previous QPR teams would have crumbled at 3-1 down with 15 minutes to go but there is a great team spirit in the current squad.

They showed a lot of fight and Mark Warburton (pictured below) felt it was two points dropped. But it’s all about the pattern of the game and for every QPR player and fan, it would have felt like a victory.

afcb.co.uk: How would you sum up Mark Warburton’s tenure as manager?

BK: He’s the first QPR manager to last into a third season since Ian Holloway in his first spell which was more than 15 years ago. That’s an achievement in itself.

If you go back to last Christmas, I don’t think there were many fans who thought he was going to survive very long. The team were struggling near the bottom of the table and he was getting an awful lot of abuse from the crowd.

But he turned it around and his reputation is very high now having come back from the brink which very few managers at that club do. He got Brentford to the Championship play-offs and everyone at QPR is hoping he can do the same here.

afcb.co.uk: Has QPR’s unbeaten start to the season exceeded supporters’ expectations?

BK: Supporters’ expectations were probably sky-high. I don’t necessarily think that’s correct but there was a huge amount of optimism around the club over the summer.

There were two main reasons, the first being the way they finished last season, winning 15 of their last 24 games.

Secondly, the summer recruitment. They had four players on loan during the second half of last season and they all signed permanently. That gave everyone a huge amount of optimism.

With that said, I think their start is a pleasant surprise for supporters. But most fans would probably say their toughest test is to come against Bournemouth.

afcb.co.uk: Who was the pick of QPR’s summer signings?

BK: You have to look at the four loan players who all signed permanently. From a crowd-pleasing point of view, Charlie Austin was a big one because he was a fans’ favourite from his previous time at the club.

In terms of importance to the team, the biggest one was probably Stefan Johansen (pictured above) who has shown his leadership qualities on the pitch, he makes things tick over in the centre of the park and the fact he has been appointed captain shows what type of character they think he is.

I would have to say those two but probably Johansen more than most for the influence he brings on the pitch and, as we saw on Saturday, he can get the odd crucial goal as well.

afcb.co.uk: Who is QPR’s one to watch?

BK: Chris Willock has been in fantastic form this season. He had a slow start to his career with Arsenal and Benfica before joining QPR a year ago.

He has really grown and is one of the players to have benefited from the change in formation to three at the back. He is playing as one of those off the striker and can change a game with his pace, skill and passing.

If he maintains his form, he’s going to be a candidate for player of the season.

afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either suspended or injured against the Cherries?

BK: Lyndon Dykes should be back. He was rested against Reading having been on international duty with Scotland.

Sam Field has been injured since the summer and is expected to be out until November.

Lee Wallace hasn’t featured since the Middlesbrough game and I think he will still be missing. Apart from those two, they should be at full strength.

afcb.co.uk: What’s your score prediction?

BK: I’m going to go with a 1-1 draw.

You can follow Ben on Twitter – @BenKosky1

QPR officials: Keith Stroud (referee), Ian Cooper (assistant), George Byrne (assistant), Joshua Smith (fourth official).

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