Watford v QPR: Hornets to relish home comforts

Watford v QPR
Monday February 1, 12:30
Sky Sports

Watford share the spoils at Millwall

Watford climbed into the Championship automatic promotion places in midweek despite being held to a goalless stalemate by draw specialists Millwall at The Den. The Hornets had the better of an entertaining first half as Tom Cleverley‘s free-kick was headed against the woodwork and home goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski saved Ismaila Sarr‘s shot with his legs.

However, Xisco Munoz‘s visitors saw towering Millwall defender Jake Cooper twice go close to giving the Lions an interval lead. The second half was less of an event – Watford did enjoy the better opportunities, particularly when Nathaniel Chalobah‘s 25-yard strike was beaten away by Bialkowski, who then tipped Troy Deeney‘s rebound wide as pressure increased.

In truth, a poor playing surface was not conducive to slick football and both sides lacked quality in attacking areas as the game wore on. Even so, Xisco was pleased with his team’s efforts after winning the shot count 13-4, saying: “I think it was a very good performance in which we controlled the ball very well in both halves and created chances to score.”

QPR toil against Derby

QPR were unable to secure a third successive Championship triumph last weekend as Rangers fell to a 1-0 home reverse to fellow strugglers Derby. The decisive strike came via Colin Kazim-Richards, who followed up to tap in after a swift second-half counter-attack caught Mark Warburton‘s men out in an afternoon to forget for the Super Hoops.

Rangers rarely threatened to level with their best chance seeing Yoann Barbet‘s acrobatic overhead kick superbly saved by keeper Kelle Roos. The R’s twice came close earlier through Charlie Austin, who headed narrowly wide from Todd Kane’s cross and also saw a first-time strike pushed away by Roos – the only effort on-target in a cautious first half.

QPR saw plenty of the ball but never looked like drawing level, mustering only two attempts on-target across the 90 minutes, leaving Warburton to admit: “I don’t think we did enough to win the game, but I don’t think we deserved to lose it. We lost silly duels and gave the ball away loosely. We gave away a sloppy goal and gave them something to hang onto.”

QPR have enjoyed slight supremacy over Watford over recent years, posting a W4-D4-L3 record dating back to the beginning of 2007/08. That includes a 1-1 stalemate in the reverse, and meetings at Vicarage Road have tended to be quite even affairs with the two teams sharing two victories apiece, alongside a draw during the most recent five match-ups.

Inconsistency between home and away performances have impeded Watford’s 1.824/5 promotion push. The Hornets have tended to be dominant hosts, collecting 68% of their overall Championship points tally at Vicarage Road (W10-D2-L1) and come into this contest off the back of W4-D1-L1 streak under new head coach Xisco Munoz since Christmas.

QPR 5.409/2 have pocketed back-to-back away wins at Luton and Cardiff, and impressed when taking a share of the spoils at table-topping Norwich in late December. However, ahead of the weekend, Rangers’ results against top-half teams this term read W0-D5-L7 with the West Londoners managing a paltry six goals in those 12 winless tussles.

Four Watford clean sheets in six league outings under Xisco Munoz’s watch have been complimented by a more attack-minded approach under the Spaniard’s guidance. Nevertheless, season-long trends still point towards a relatively low-scoring showdown on Monday night with the Hornets seeing Over 2.5 Goals 2.1011/10 in only 4/13 (31%) at home.

QPR’s away days have been similarly tight affairs with 4/13 (31%) fixtures featuring three goals or more. Indeed, when the Super Hoops have taken on top-half teams, only four of 12 meetings have seen Over 2.5 Goals backers collect, suggesting the 1.824/5 on Under 2.5 Goals could again go close at Vicarage Road here.

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