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Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Match Preview: QPR v Sunderland - all you need to know ahead of kick-off!

After two weeks of the international snooze-fest, the proper stuff is back as the Lads travel to the capital to take on Gareth Ainsworth’s QPR - here’s all the build-up ahead of kick-off!

Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images


Saturday 16th September 2023

(17th) QPR v Sunderland (9th)

Championship

Loftus Road

Kick-Off: 15:00


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets are available at www.safc.com.

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage is available via www.safc.com.

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!


The build-up...

Finally, football is back!

Never mind that international nonsense, this is what we’ve been waiting for - especially on the back of a 5-0 win. Not only that but after losing the first two, Tony Mowbray’s boys have collected seven points out of the last nine on offer, and our tails are up.

All eyes were on the top end of the pitch as the end of the transfer window attracted everyone’s attention to that end of the pitch, but it has possibly detracted from the fact that we’ve conceded only one goal in the last three games.

Bizarrely that goal came at home against Rotherham United, rather than at much-fancied Coventry City or in the visit to Southampton who are seemingly out to win awards for the most possession this season rather than actual points.

But two successive clean sheets in a row is a big step forward considering we did this only twice last season and if we achieve a third today we will do something we didn’t do at all last season.

Last time out against Southampton was also the first time this season we have scored the opening goal - hopefully, the fact we ended up winning so convincingly might persuade the Lads to try that trick again this afternoon.

Mowbray also has some fantastic problems to deal with in terms of team selection, with assessing the merits and fitness of new boys Mason Burstow, Nazariy Rusyn and Adil Aouchiche to, more likely, sit on the bench. Patrick Roberts and Eliezer Mayenda might also be knocking on the door on their recovery from injuries, but it’s a tough call following a 5-0 victory.

With a trip to Blackburn Rovers coming around quickly on Wednesday night, it might be a simple one to give the new lads a bit more time to settle - but with only five points between ourselves and the top two, it’s an excellent opportunity to keep up with the early pace setters at the top of the table.

Sunderland v Southampton - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rock and roll football has returned to Loftus Road, apparently.

Gareth Ainsworth returned to Loftus Road around a week after our 3-0 victory over the Hoops back in February, following the subsequent sacking of Neil Critchley - but things very nearly went horribly wrong.

Under Ainsworth they actually fell three positions from when he took over to finish two places and four points above the drop following a horrendous run to end the season.

This season is QPR’s 9th in the Championship after dropping form the Premier League in 2014-15 in a bit of a mess, and in that time they have finished no higher than 9th in the table, which tells its own story.

They have been widely tipped to struggle again this time around, but results and performances so far might suggest things might not be as bad as they appear.

Having switched their original home game to start the season to play away at Vicarage Road to complete work on their pitch, they not only went down 4-0 that day but have only played once on home soil in the opening five league games. This ended in a tight 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town, so impressive victories at Cardiff City and Middlesbrough have accumulated six points and keep them four above the bottom three.

Having experienced Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers sides over the years, it probably won't come as a surprise to many of you that QPR have averaged 33% possession across the five league games so far - as we saw last week against Southampton it doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on the result, but it does indicate we’ll see a lot of the ball this afternoon - we just need to do something with it.

Southampton v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship - St. Mary’s Stadium
Queens Park Rangers manager Gareth Ainsworth
Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

The betting...

The bookies fancy the Lads to take maximum points this afternoon at 6/5, while a home win is priced at around 21/10 and a draw is 12/5.


Head to head... at Loftus Road

(All competitions)

  • Sunderland wins: 6
  • Draws: 4
  • QPR wins: 10
  • Sunderland goals: 24
  • QPR goals: 30

Last time we met... at Loftus Road

Tuesday 14th February 2023

Premier League

QPR 0-3 Sunderland

[O’Nien 34’. Clarke 82’, 90’ (Patterson saved penalty 67’)]

Sunderland: Patterson, Hume, Ballard, Batth, Alese (Cirkin), Roberts, O’Nien, Pritchard (Neil), Clarke, Ba (Diallo), Gelhardt (Ekwah) Substitutes not used: Bass, Lihadji, Bennette

QPR: Dieng, Laird (Kakay), Paal, Dozzell (Johansen), Dickie, Dunne, Field, Iroegbunam (Armstrong), Martin, Lowe, Chair Substitutes not used: Archer, Gubbins, Dixon-Bonner, Adomah

Attendance: 14,471

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Jack Clarke celebrates scoring Sunderland’s third goal on our previous visit to Loftus Road back in February
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Played for both...

John Byrne

Manchester-born John Byrne started out with York City, but it wasn’t until Denis Smith's arrival as manager that his career began to take off. After impressive in the lower leagues, a big-money move to Queens Park Rangers came in 1984.

On the back of four successful years at Loftus Road, he moved to French side Le Harve at a time when not many British players plied their trade overseas. Two years later, he was ready to come back and after a failed attempt by Smith to sign Byrne for Sunderland to replace Eric Gates, he moved to Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer of 1990.

It would be in late 1991 when the move to Roker Park would finally happen, just in time for a run to the FA Cup where he famously scored in every round except the final. The Republic of Ireland international would join Millwall soon after and then reunite with Smith once again at Oxford United before ending his career back at Brighton.

If you didn’t catch it the first time around, give our podcast a listen from when we had a chance to talk to John Byrne about his time with the Lads here.

Soccer - FA Cup Semi Final - Sunderland v Norwich City Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images


OPINION!

Barnesy’s Blog: Jack Clarke is simply unplayable!

ROKER ROUNDTABLE!

Roker Roundtable: How can Tony Mowbray make best use of his wider squad?

FAN LETTERS!

Fan Letters: “As Sunderland skipper, Luke O’Nien is mastering the dark arts of football!”

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