QPR FanZoner Chris King looks ahead to Friday night’s crucial Sky Bet Championship play-off clash against Wigan.
Queens Park Rangers travel to Wigan Athletic this evening hoping to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Rangers go into play-off semi-final, first leg off the back of a 3-2 win away at Barnsley, which featuring a goal from returning hero Charlie Austin and a magnificent solo effort by Yun Suk-Young.
The form table, which can count for so little in play-off encounters, has the Rs on five victories in the last ten games, compared to just three for Uwe Rosler’s side, whose form has dipped somewhat.
After storming up the Championship table thanks to an excellent run of results in March, the Latics finished narrowly ahead of Brighton & Hove Albion in sixth and Reading, who only just missed out.
In the most recent clash between the two sides, QPR ran out 1-0 winners at Loftus Road thanks to Yossi Benayoun in a game that saw Wigan dominate for long periods, but fail to break Rangers down.
Manager Harry Redknapp has spoken of his intention to “have a go” at the hosts at the DW Stadium, where the Rs’ previous visit yielded a goalless draw, but defensive solidity must be the priority.
The Superhoops have been outnumbered in central midfield on several occasions this season, notably in the 2-1 turnaround against Watford, when Redknapp has fielded a more attacking side.
With both sides having scored around the same number of goals, 60 and 61, and conceded a similar amount, 44 and 48, Rangers will be looking to bring no more than a one goal deficit back to London.
It remains to be seen whether Redknapp will opt for the experience of Clint Hill at left back, or stick with Suk-Young, who has impressed in the handful of appearances he has been granted.
Enforcer Karl Henry could be the man to replace Tom Carroll, whose passing range will be far more suited to the home leg, while Ravel Morrison will again be relied upon for creativity in the final third.
Wigan have no injury problems to speak of, with Rösler dramatically refusing to engage with what he described as “pressure bingo” after Redknapp described his squad as the best in the division.
Such comments, perhaps derived from his time in the Premier League mind games pit, ignore the fact that QPR have the Championship’s largest, best paid and most experienced collection of players.
The much-loved team nurtured by Ian Holloway when the Rs last went into the playoff lottery could not be more different to the current team, which cannot afford not to get to Wembley.
Against the Latics, a notably big-game outfit, Rangers must be at their best in every department, with seven of the FA Cup-winning side still at the club and eager to return to the big time.
But the fact remains that just three matches stand between QPR and Premier League football – it is just a pity that all of them are on television, given the Superhoops’ camera-shy nature.
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Originally published on TEAMtalk on Friday May 9 2014.