QPR v Watford Friday February 15, 19:45 Live on BT Sport
QPR suffer late adversity, again
QPR remain without a Championship victory since Boxing Day after suffering painful successive losses. The R's valiantly fought back from 4-0 down at home to Birmingham last week before missing a stoppage-time penalty that would have given the capital club a point, before going down 2-1 to Bristol City on Tuesday due to a last-gasp controversial penalty.
Head coach Steve McClaren was raging with the award of the spot-kick, as QPR's defending improved tenfold. Four down after 36 minutes against Birmingham, Rangers switched to a back three, with Toni Leistner returning to the side along with Jordan Cousins and Pawel Wszolek. Matt Smith's fourth goal in three games put QPR ahead but they were unable to hold out.
McClaren must now decide whether to persist with his recent alterations, or recall talented youngster Eberechi Eze. Loan players Tomer Hemed, Angel Rangel and Geoff Cameron have all returned to full training and give the hosts options across the board, although the former England boss looks likely to make minimal major amendments to his starting XI.
Watford keep Toffees quiet
Watford held off late pressure from Everton to claim a hard-fought victory over their former manager Marco Silva last week. Much was made of a game that saw Silva return to Vicarage Road for the first time, but neither side was able to take a strangle-hold of the game as half-time substitute Andre Gray scored the only goal of the match soon after the hour mark.
Etienne Capoue and Gerard Deulofeu both tested the Toffees, whilst Ben Foster saved well to deny Cenk Tosun. And while the Merseysiders did rattle the woodwork twice in the second-half, Watford never came under sustained or serious pressure in the closing stages, leaving head coach Javi Gracia pleased with how his team set-up defensively.
Gracia has made widespread changes to his Watford side in FA Cup showdowns already this season but with a quarter-final place at stake, the Hornets supremo may opt against resting and rotating his full starting XI. Abdoulaye Doucoure has recently returned to full fitness but Kiko Femenia, Roberto Pereyra, Isaac Success and Sebastian Prodl remain sidelined.
Hornets odds-on favourites to succeed
QPR and Watford are locking horns for the first time in four years on Friday with the pair returning an even split of W3-D3-L3 in their most recent nine Loftus Road meetings dating back to 1999. Nevertheless, Premier League side Watford are chalked up as firm odds-on favourites at 1.91 to succeed in 90 minutes.
The Hornets are comfortably perched inside the top-half in the top-flight and boast a very commendable W9-D7-L3 record when excluding the Big Six. The visitors have W4-D5-L2 when travelling to the lesser Premier League lights, whilst only four divisional rivals are giving up fewer Expected Goals (xG) from open play per-game in 2018/19.
QPR4.80 have collected a solitary point in 2019 Championship football to remain marooned in the bottom-half. Rangers have W2-D1-L6 when welcoming clubs in 14th and above W3-D3-L13 against the same standard of opposition when including away days. The R's are likely to come up short should Watford approach this tie in the right manner.
Visitors can exploit R's defence
Twelve of QPR's past 15 league matches have featured Over 2.5 Goals 2.12 with the capital club shipping at least two goals on 10 occasions. Even so, Rangers still offer enough attacking threat to cause problems with 10 of those 15 fixtures also producing Both Teams To Score profit.
Six of Watford's 10 trips to non-Big Six clubs have seen both sides score, whilst Over 2.5 Goals was a winner in four of those outings. The Hornets have kept three shutouts in their most recent four Premier League duels and capable of keeping QPR at bay, so instead of approaching the goals markets, I'll dig into Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi.
Here we can support a Watford win alongside the Hertfordshire guests scoring Over 1.5 Goals for a fair 11/8 offering on Friday night.
Mark O’Haire says: back Watford to win and Watford to score Over 1.5 Goals @ 11/8 in QPR v Watford