It could be a blessing in disguise.
Whilst Fulham are missing one of their key man in Aleksander Mitrovic through suspension, QPR are going to be in the same situation tonight as they will be without central defender Yoann Barbet, as Mark Warburton revealed in his press conference ahead of the game that the game has ‘come too soon’ for the Frenchman.
Barbet has been injured since before the Brentford game back in late October, and although Warburton didn’t give an exact date for his return, the way he spoke about it gives the indication that it will be sooner rather than later.
Whilst it might seem like a bit of a blow for QPR to be without someone who was more or less and ever-present in the early stages of the season, and who has led the team in terms of interceptions with 2 per game and in terms of average passes played per game with 57.8 (via WhoScored), it actually plays into QPR’s hands that he won’t be available tonight.
It sort of touches on what I was saying earlier about Matt Smith, certain games call for a certain style of player, and a game like this wouldn’t have suited Barbet’s style and it really comes down to one aspect of his game.
Given that he averages 7.3 long passes per game, which is more than goalkeeper Joe Lumley who averages 5.8 (via WhoScored), this is a game where the team are going to have to be more controlled and keeping hold of possession rather than giving it away up the field. Given that Fulham lead the league in terms of possession with 62.5% (via WhoScored), the second Rangers give the ball away, they might not get it back, and with QPR’s porous defensive record, that could very much spell danger.
Are we better off without Barbet?
If we are to win tonight, Warburton’s men are going to have to play them at their own game, and the longer we hold onto the ball, the better.