Match Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs. Preston North End


It’s fair to say that North End have had a pretty decent record at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium over the last ten years.

Since a 3-1 defeat in Shepherd’s Bush in 2010 – the same season the R’s would go on to seal promotion to the Premier League – PNE have played five, won three, drawn one and lost one in that part of the capital.

In 2019, they put four past Steve McClaren’s beleaguered side on their way to a 4-1 victory, the former England manager sacked just days after that game.

The same fate surely should not befall their current boss Mark Warburton, whose side have had a solid start to the season after losing star playmaker Eberechi Eze to Crystal Palace in the summer, if they lose on Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, North End will be coming into this game looking to avenge a 1-0 defeat against Cardiff City in front of the Sky cameras on Sunday. Neil Harris’s men took the lead close to the hour mark and quickly put men behind the ball in order to protect the scoreline, with North End unable to break them down in the closing stages.

Daniel Johnson made his return to the substitutes list after missing the last few games, whilst new signing Emil Riis made a second cameo from the bench towards the end of the match, showing a few nice touches.

With PNE in 18th position in the league as things stand, could a win at a ground which has favoured both Alex Neil and Simon Grayson’s sides in the last few years spark a charge up the table?

Potential Dangers

With Eze’s departure leaving a void in the team, part of QPR’s creative responsibilities have been covered by Belgian midfielder Ilias Chair.

The 22-year-old came through the academy at the club, having joined from Lierse in 2017, and he made his mark on loan at Stevenage in 2018/19, scoring six goals in 16 games for the League Two outfit. Upon Warburton’s appointment last season, Chair was given a key role on the left of QPR’s midfield, making 41 appearances and scoring on four occasions.

He has started every game for QPR up until this point of the new campaign, scoring in their opening-day 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest.

His technical skills and passing ability have also already seen him compared with former R’s star Adel Taarabt.

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Entering his second season as a QPR player, Yoann Barbet has done a solid job at the heart of the defence since joining from Brentford.

A dependable presence, the Frenchman has formed a partnership with new signing Rob Dickie this season, with Bournemouth failing to register even a shot on target when the two sides met last weekend. He also showed off his prowess at the other end, scoring one of the goals of the season when he volleyed in from a corner in an eventual 3-2 defeat against Coventry last month.

QPR fended off competition from several clubs to land the signature of striker Macauley Bonne in the summer.

The Zimbabwe international starred for eventually relegated Charlton last season, scoring 11 goals in 33 games and assuming the lead striker role when Lyle Taylor decided not to extend his contract to cover the restart.

It was his first season in the Championship, having scored 20 goals in two consecutive seasons for Leyton Orient. With usual frontman Lyndon Dykes having missed the game against Bournemouth last weekend, Bonne took over striking duties after coming off the bench and scoring his first goal for the club against Sheffield Wednesday.

Opposition View

In our first “Opposition View” of the new season, we’re welcoming Clive from QPR fan site, LoftforWords. Go and check them out on Twitter here if you like – @LoftforWords.

Our season so far… We’ve started very well with a good 2-0 home win against Forest on the opening day. We played well and kept a clean sheet at the first time of asking – something it took us 21 games to achieve last year (you were our first).

We then started very strongly and were dominating at Coventry, leading 1-0, before a lot of our familiar defensive failings of last season came back to haunt us in a 3-2 defeat.

It’s been draws all the way since then with a lacklustre, uninspiring game and 1-1 with Boro, a scrappy encounter and last-minute equaliser at Sheffield Wednesday, and then an excellent performance, the best of the season so far, which really should have brought a two or three-goal win but for bad finishing at Bournemouth at the weekend.

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Our 3-1 win at Deepdale was the last game before lockdown. It left us six points shy of the play-offs, unbeaten in six, playing quite well, and there was a good deal of optimism around for the summer games.

We still had fixtures with Barnsley, Charlton, Wigan, Boro and Luton to come who were all below us so we felt like we had half a chance. Alas, for whatever reason, we just didn’t cope with behind closed doors football at all, won only two of the nine games and actually at one point looked in danger of slipping into the picture the other way.

The transfer window was much busier than we expected. We got the big money we wanted/needed for Ebere Eze and we’ve been able to invest that, mostly in players aged 22-25 who we’ll hope to develop up and sell on themselves in a couple of years time.

We’re trying to get into that Brentford model of buy low, sell high, lather, rinse, repeat and after some minor successes with Alex Smithies and Luke Freeman, Eze was the first big hit. Rob Dickie, a centre back from Oxford, has started well of the newcomers.

Albert Adomah doesn’t fit into this model but he’s a QPR fan, wanted to come, had been paid up by Forest so we’ve been able to get a good, experienced player in there within our tight wage confines.

The aim for the rest of the season is to finisher higher than last season, win more games, score more goals, defend a bit better, and develop some more players to sell.

We did that successfully last year and repeating it looked a tall order until the arrivals late in the window. We’ve managed to actually buy some strikers permanently this time rather than relying on loans and the division looks pretty weak to me, so I’m cautiously optimistic. That said, I think we’re on something like six wins from 25, two wins from 17 away games, so for all the good business done, nice performance at Bournemouth, looking a bit more sound at the back, we do need to start putting some games to bed.

Four of the next six are at home starting on Wednesday so we need a few victories from that clutch of games.

The starting 11 is quite hard to call this time because Luke Amos, who was key to Warburton’s approach this season, has unfortunately done his ACL.

My prediction, not very confidently, is a 4-2-3-1 as follows… Dieng; Kakay, Dickie, Barbet, Wallace; Cameron, Ball; Osayi-Samuel, Bonne, Chair; Dykes.

Score draw is usually a good bet with us so I’ll say 1-1.


This is a tough game to predict, but I think North End’s last performance on the road against Brentford will give them plenty of confidence that they can return to the capital and get a positive result.

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The players will also be desperate to respond after a difficult outing against a well-drilled Cardiff side on Sunday afternoon.

I’m going for a 2-0 win for PNE.

In terms of the starting XI, I’d expect Alex Neil to make at least a couple of changes from Sunday’s XI. Emil Riis looked sharp during his brief appearance off the bench, and I predict he’ll be in from the start if Neil thinks he is ready to make his full debut.

Tom Barkhuizen didn’t have a huge chance to make his mark on the game on Sunday, but I think against a QPR side that provide different problems to Cardiff, his pace down the right side could be crucial.

In an ideal world I’d also have Daniel Johnson back in the starting XI as well, although given that he has missed the last few matches, and was an unused substitute against the Bluebirds, it may be slightly too early for him. However, with news of Ben Pearson being a doubt, he could well feature from the start.

However, for now I’ll go with: Rudd; Rafferty, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Ledson; Barkhuizen, Browne, Sinclair; Riis.

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