Can Steve McClaren's resurgent Hoops continue their excellent form?
Following QPR’s abysmal start to this Championship season – which saw them lose their opening four matches with an aggregate score of 13-2 – Steve McClaren has remarkably, and somewhat surprisingly, turned things around at Loftus Road in emphatic fashion.
His side have now won six of their last 10 Championship matches, which is the sort of form that gets you into the play-offs if maintained; their latest scalp Sheffield Wednesday, following a 3-0 Tuesday night drubbing.
The outlook at Aston Villa is somewhat less rosy. Dean Smith has inherited a mess at Villa Park, and his first port of call is to reinstate a semblance of a feel-good factor back around the club – something which had been totally eradicated under Steve Bruce.
Smith did an excellent job at Brentford, and I have no doubts about his ability to do a great job with Villa, but it’ll take time to de-Bruce the club. Their trip to Loftus Road will be an incredibly tough one: since August 25, McClaren’s men have beaten Wigan, Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday there, and drew with a good Derby side; only Norwich City left with all three points after winning 1-0.
Then you look at Villa’s away form: three points from their last six matches on the road makes for sad reading. What’s most worrying is that they have blown 1-0 leads in their last two, which is perhaps unsurprising considering they have kept just two clean sheet all season.
QPR will be buoyant after their excellent display against Wednesday, and although I’m not convinced they’ll win the game, I’m confident they will not lose. Therefore I’m going to pile into a QPR win/draw double chance.
Though QPR have been relatively solid at home, I’m still confident both teams will score here. In truth, The Hoops rode their luck against Wednesday and were fortunate to emerge unscathed, and Villa have the players to punish McClaren’s men at the back.
Despite their woes on the road, Villa have still scored in every single away league game, and with Tammy Abraham expected to be fully fit for this match, their attack has a deadly focal point.
There’s definite value in backing BTTS.
Though he struggled with Swansea in the Premier League last season, Tammy Abraham’s quality as a Championship striker is incontrovertible. The Villa man has three goals from his last four matches, and is the visitors’ biggest goal threat by some distance.
He did pick up a slight injury against Norwich in midweek, but don’t let that put you off – Dean Smith has given him the all-clear for Friday.
Abraham to score at any time is how we’ll round this one off.