After last minute heartbreak at The Den against table topping Leeds United, the Lions make the short midweek trip to West London to face Queens Park Rangers.
The start of the season for the R’s could not have been any worse, with a 7-1 rout away at West Brom being the most humbling loss in four consecutive league defeats. Questions were asked whether or not Steve McClaren was the right man for the job when the West London side lost 3-0 at home to Bristol City, however three wins and one draw from their last four games in all competitions saw QPR back on track. Millwall’s form has been the complete opposite, with a promising start to the season now washed away with a dreadful run of three defeats and one draw in their last four fixtures.
The two fixtures last season between the London sides were overshadowed by the tomfoolery of the man who managed both sides, Ian Holloway. Luckily for the Lions, Holloway played into Millwall’s hands and the immaturity displayed at Loftus Road last season resulted in QPR only taking one point in the league against the South London side. Steve McClaren will be a calmer influence on the side lines and will have his side a lot more composed than the man he replaced.
Haven't we met before?...
Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Millwall, 12th September 2017 – Lee Gregory controversially saw red in between goals from Conor McLaughlin and Jed Wallace in a game where the Lions were 2-0 up for the majority of the game. Jordan Archer was in inspired form and did phenomenally well to keep Ian Holloway’s men at bay for so long, but in the end the numbers were just too much for Millwall and substitute Matt Smith equalised for Rangers with only five minutes to go. The game was also remembered for Holloway’s ridiculous touchline antics and these proved to be a catalyst for the later fixture at The Den before the end of the year.
Shaun Hutchinson remains the only long-term absentee for this fixture for Millwall, with the defender still out with a knee injury. Ryan Leonard had an excellent debut against Leeds United so will be expected to keep his place in midfield and Tom Bradshaw or Tom Elliott will be looking for a starting position upfront. Ben Amos should retain the goalkeeper’s jersey after an impressive game against the league leaders.
Steve McClaren’s side continues to play with confidence, so expect the experienced coach to keep with an unchanged side after the win against Bolton Wanderers. Josh Scowen may return to the match day squad for Rangers, however Darnell Furlong and Sean Goss remain on the side lines.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Although initially signing on loan, the man who will go on to be Millwall’s record signing had a great first game against Leeds United and showed why he was the man that Neil Harris has been after for repeated transfer windows. The midfielder showed moments of creativity and excitement in the recent home game against the Yorkshire side and the away fans will be expecting the same from the former Southend man.
Who are ya?!
For this week’s ‘Who are ya?’, we sit down with Simon Skinner from @QPRNet. For this edition, we ask Simon what he thought of the last season's fixtures, how he felt about the recruitment of Steve McClaren and the players Millwall fans need to look out for.
1. The two fixtures last season between the Lions and QPR were quite tense affairs, due mostly due to the actions of a certain Ian Holloway. What was your opinion of these fixtures and how are the Rangers fans viewing this one?
The home game, we got away with one I think. Millwall were deservedly ahead when Gregory was, harshly, sent off. Archer was inspired in goal, in his usual unconventional manner!
As for the away game; the antics of the manager did a lot of damage to his reputation at board level. Who knows what was going through his mind when he started all that business getting off the bus. He then set us up to play a physical game against the master of the physical game. A pretty bad day all round for him I’d say and I think that was the beginning of the end for him.
Neither team have exactly set the division alight so far. Coming off the back of seven points out of the last nine (including a rare as hens teeth away victory) plus a cup win, I fancy that a lot of Rangers fans will think this is a winnable game. I’m not quite so sure though!
2. You employed Steve McClaren after Holloway left the club, how was this appointment seen by the fan base?
Mixed really to start with, then after shipping ten goals in four days it went downhill! However, after a revival in the last few I would say he’s probably back to mixed again! I didn’t mind the appointment as I could kind of see the reasoning behind it. Develop the youth, have a more stable presence at the helm. Whether that pans out remains to be seen as it is very early days.
3. Apart from a humbling 7-1 defeat to West Brom, results have been mixed. How do you think the start of the season has gone?
The start was dreadful. Losing four on the belt, shipping ten in four days, forcing the players into a style of football they simply could not handle. The West Brom and Bristol City games saw us hit rock bottom but in fairness, the management and players have dug in and seem to have at least got the ship pointing in the right direction now.
The insistence on playing from the keeper at all costs has gone, Matt Ingram had his confidence shot to pieces as a result. Experience players in Rangel, Cameron, Wells and Hemed have bolstered a youthful squad with some experience and savvy.
4. Three of your players are your joint top scorers, although they only have two each. What has been the reason for the lack of goals? Is it the service or quality up front?
We were woefully light up front. You had Smith that’s a handful in the air but as mobile as a fridge freezer, Washington that’s mobile but couldn’t finish a steak dinner and Sylla who, well, who knows what he offers! With the FFP hole we dug ourselves into, we couldn’t afford to buy a Championship standard striker. The market is so over inflated that it was simply impossible, but the club held their nerve and managed to get Tomer Hemed and Nakhi Wells in on season long loans. Two proven performers at this level and a huge upgrade on what we had.
The style of play also didn’t help us to start with. When you’re asking players to play out and they can’t get it past halfway without giving it away it does somewhat stunt your attacking play!
5. What player should Millwall fans look out for?
As mentioned above, Hemed and Wells look a handful and their presence has created space for Luke Freeman and Ebere Eze to play. Eze, who was bombed out of Millwall, looks a serious talent. He’s learning a wider role but those that went to Bolton on Saturday were purring over his display. Strong, great touch, good finisher and he glides with the ball. Big things are expected and he’s worth keeping an eye on.
6. Finally, what do you think the score will be?
Last season we struggled to cope with the Millwall up and at 'em style. In the away game we set up to basically allow you to do as you pleased, and you duly obliged! I think we’ll be more prepared for it this time but I still can’t see much between the sides. I’ll go for a 1-1. Wells to open his account for Rangers.
PREDICTION: QPR 1-1 MILLWALL
Both sides will be looking for the three points, but for totally different reasons; QPR will be looking to continue their recent good run of form, whereas the Lions will be looking to halt their winless streak. Even though the two teams will be looking for victory, Millwall will be just as happy with a battling point away from home at a tough Loftus Road, so I predict a score draw for this one.
Come on you Lions.