In just a couple of weeks, there’ll be no football on a Friday evening to keep us occupied in the house or out at the pub. Until that fateful day, we have QPR hosting Premier League hopefuls Sheffield United at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium at 19:45. To clue you up for the Championship’s first fixture of the weekend, I’ve been combing through the stats to provide my top 3 Bet Builder Picks and a Cheat Sheet for Friday’s action.
The hosts technically can still qualify for a playoff spot with 2 games to go. They are six points behind their visitors in 6th. However, a 10-goal difference and one point needed for Sheffield from a possible 6 to render their playoff push dead it’s unlikely they’ll be coming out all guns blazing. They’ve lost 4 of their last 6 league games in what’s been a disappointing end to the season for Mark Warburton’s men. In all competitions this has given QPR the unwanted title of the Championship team with the most defeats since February.
They’ll be without some key players coming into this game. Regular starters at the back in Robert Dickie and veteran Lee Wallace will be absent from Friday night’s fixture. Also, the 1st choice keeper Seny Dieng alongside 2nd choice keeper David Marshall means that the 3rd string Keiren Westwood will feature in between the posts once again. Considering they were put away 1-0 comfortably earlier in the month by The Blades they will be relying on the home support to give them any advantage over their visitors.
Sheffield United will be far hungrier for the 3 points on Friday than the London outfit. A win tomorrow would mean that Middlesborough, Blackburn, and Millwall breathing down their necks would have to win both of their remaining 2 games to be in playoff contention. If results don’t go their competitor’s way getting all 3 points at QPR could be enough to secure their place. They’ve only won twice in their last 6 games and there may be some concern that they’ve not won away in their last 6 on the road either. There is no doubt though that they will be the team with the most impetus to get a result on Friday.
They have a similar raft of injury concerns with Goode, Bogle, Baldock, Mcburnie, McGoldrick, and Brewster clogging up the treatment table. However, their attacking injury problems has had a silver lining. Morgan-Gibbs White has been moved to the front line and been on a great streak of form picking up the young player of the year at The Star Football Awards. He’s been linking up well with Ndiaye in recent weeks and his excellent partnership with local lad Billy Sharp will be revisited as the veteran striker looks fit to return after a muscle injury. They’ve beaten Rangers the last 4 times they have played including 3 times on the road. They’ll be the favourites entering this match against a struggling QPR side with little to play for.
Sheffield United to Win
As mentioned before Sheffield United will be the bookmaker’s choice to get all 3 points in London on Friday. At this stage of the season teams can find themselves in purgatory with no opportunities to win anything and no fear of relegation. The football calendar demands that fixtures are played, and players and managers will go through the motions till they can book a flight to The Maldives and sunbathe for a few weeks. That’s the situation QPR find themselves in realistically and there will be a clear difference in hunger and desire between these two teams once the game kicks off.
Even the most talented team with no motivation is not a dangerous prospect, especially when factoring in squad rotation. Sheffield United fans they will have the more talented squad anyway and with that extra motivation the ball is definitely in their court to claim maximum points. In recent years, they’ve proven to be a bogey team for QPR having only lost once to them once since 2015.
A real positive for this season has been their defensive solidity that has been the foundation for the playoff push. They have the best record of clean sheets in the league with 43% of their games resulting in the opposition drawing a blank. Their hosts have been far less successful at keeping the opposition out with only 25% of their games featuring clean sheets. This is good news for returning top scorer Billy Sharp with 14 goals and his talented young partner Gibbs-White with a respectable tally of 10.
QPR in recent weeks have been losing, a lot. The fans probably forgot that draws existed when they were held to a 2-2 draw away at Huddersfield this month. That was their first draw in almost two months in a period between that saw them win twice and lose 7 times. Looking at their last 10 games is pretty bleak too. They’ve drawn once, won twice, and lost 7 times! The reduced probability of a draw makes this selection even more appealing at odds of 1.85.
Billy Sharp to Score or Assist
Billy Sharp is a Championship and Sheffield United legend. The skipper and player of the year has proven there’s life in the old dog this season with 14 goals from the 36-year-old striker. This makes him the top scorer in the United squad, and he’ll expect to feature in the starting line-up after being sidelined due to injury.
He’s been a good teammate for his strike partners too, providing 7 assists this season giving him a grand total of 21 goals and assists from 30 starts. He’s not only defied age this year, but he’s also statistically defied the odds too. His expected goals and assists are 15.53 which highlights the Sheffield born front man’s ability to score and assist from unlikely positions.
He’ll be lining up opposite a QPR defence without major players in Lee Wallace and Robert Dickie. This lack of experience and talent will be even more concerning with a third string goalkeeper to keep out a Sheffield United squad who will be desperate for a win on Friday. Their inability to keep a clean sheet and the presence of Gibbs-White who’s been in good form recently spells trouble for a struggling QPR. Sharp’s 20-minute cameo last week gave him an opportunity to stretch his legs and this outing will be a chance to test his scoring boots or even provide an assist at odds of 2.0.
Sam Field to be Carded
I’ve been scratching my head at how the EFL has let Sam Field play without suspension after falling foul of the referee so many times. He’s tied for the most booked player in The Championship this season with an impressive 14 bookings. Incredibly in the last 8 games he’s been booked 7 times! QPR have averaged an impressive 2.00 cards per game this season with a total of 88 yellows in the league. Field’s contributions this year mean that he is responsible for over 15% of their bookings for the season.
The three forward players he will be chasing down on Friday all average over a foul drawn game. Morgan Gibbs-White (1.5), Billy Sharp (1.44), and Iliman Ndiaye (1.17) will be putting the midfielder on the backfoot all game if the reverse fixture is anything to go by. Sheffield United haven’t strayed too far from their Premier League style of play under the previous caretaker Chris Wilder. They still average more possession than their opponents in the league with 54.77% across the season. Their technical midfield makes this possible and players like Sander Berge will be giving the QPR midfield long spells without the ball and increase the chance of a foul.
From the Cheat Sheet, it is clear that Field isn’t unlucky to be carded so frequently this season. He’s averaged 2.04 fouls per game this season which makes him the 2nd highest fouler between the 2 teams. Also adding value to this selection is the referee in charge of the action. Peter Bankes is on the higher end of the disciplinary tables of Championship refs this season averaging 4.29 cards per game. It looks set up for Field to make it 8 bookings from 9 games on Friday especially considering that this stage of the season means a suspension is of less concern to his manager. He’s available to find his way into the ref’s book at odds of 3.75.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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QPR predicted XI (4-2-2-2) : Westwood; Sanderson, Barbet, Dunne, McCallum; Dozzell, Field; Amos, Chair; Thomas, Dykes
Sheffield United predicted XI (5-3-2) : Foderingham; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Osborn, Norwood, Berge, Stevens; Gibbs-White, Ndiaye; Sharp
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* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch QPR v Sheffield United in the Championship
📅 When is QPR v Sheffield United? / Friday, 29th April 2022, 19:45
🏟 Where is QPR v Sheffield United? / Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. (London)
📺 What TV channel is QPR v Sheffield United on? / Sky Sports Main Event
🟨 …And who is the referee for QPR v Sheffield United? / P. Bankes 🏴