For two clubs who used to regularly tread the boards of the top flight, recent years have not been overly kind to QPR or Sheffield Wednesday. They, along with Nottingham Forest, are sides who spent most of the 80s and 90s in the Premier League, including back when it was called Division One. Although QPR have in the moderately-recent past made a couple of visits back to the top, these are sides for whom glory has been hard to come by in recent years – and for whom a cup run would be one way of getting the adrenaline flowing again.
At least one of these two will be in the draw for the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, and tonight’s meeting may decide which one progresses in the hope of facing a Premier League opponent (or perhaps better, coming up against a lower-division side and extending their run). Neither the Rs nor the Owls are, at present, looking like promotion material, and equally neither seems threatened by the prospect of relegation – so tonight offers both the chance to give this season some real impetus.
All’s Wells that ends Wells (‘ loan spell)?
Without a doubt, the star of the show for QPR this season has been Nakhi Wells, his 13 goals in 26 games being vital to their attack. The main problem with this is that Wells is on loan and could be recalled at any moment by parent club Burnley, who can make a profit on him by selling to one of the many interested clubs. With the striker likely to be at best unsettled, now is not the time for the Rs to be facing a Championship rival.
Wells is 4/1 with William Hill to score the game’s first goal, which presents us with an interesting conundrum. Do you back him to open the scoring, knowing he might not actually be involved, or that his mind may be elsewhere? In our view, no. You look towards Jordan Hugill – who is not linked with a move and doesn’t need to worry about being cup-tied – at odds of 9/2. The striker – himself on loan from West Ham – scored twice in the previous round as QPR defeated Swansea, and will be fancied to get among the goals again.
Goals a likely feature
Although they sit four places below this evening’s opponents, Rangers have scored seven more goals in League fixtures, and also fired five past Swansea in the Cup. Along with Wells’ 14 goals for the season, Hugill has added ten and the same number have been contributed by winger Eberechi Eze. Why, then, are they struggling in the league? Simple – they cannot defend. With 51 goals against, they have the third worst defence in the Championship. It seems close to impossible that they will be able to shut up shop here and get a result.
Wednesday will come to London confident of at least getting among the goals, and it seems reasonable to expect that they will. Although the Yorkshire side are not one of the more prolific sides around, they have the players to exploit gaps in what has been a very gappy defence. You can expect there to be plenty of goals in tonight’s contest, and Unibet are offering 47/20 that there will be more than 3.5 scored in the 90 minutes. Those odds are worth a look, all things considered.
Happy Friday for Wednesday?
The bookies are having a hard time separating these sides, which is understandable as both have been resolutely mediocre for the bulk of this season. Interestingly, the consensus is that while QPR are more likely to win this evening, it is marginal enough that if the question changes to “Who will progress from this tie?”, Wednesday become favourites.
In that regard, there might be some sense in backing QPR with Coral to be the team that makes it to Round Five. At Even money, they offer a decent return given that they triumphed in the sides’ one meeting this season, which took place at the Owls’ Hillsborough stadium – and that this encounter is taking place in London. With Hugill, Eze and possibly still Wells available to the home side, the one-off cup-tie may be exactly what QPR need to progress – and if they need to, they know they can win at Wednesday.
There is also the fact that, with the Owls just four points outside the play-off spots, a defeat tonight would hurt them less than it would their opponents. Not that that will be playing on their minds as they line up for this game, but there is definitely a feel that if QPR want to take anything from this season, it has to come in the Cup given the unlikelihood of them mounting enough of a revival to get into the promotion battle.
Bets of the Day
QPR to progress (Evens, Coral); More than 3.5 goals (Unibet, 47/20); Hugill to score first (William Hill, 9/2)