The Villa Appetiser: QPR v Villa 2016
The Norwich defeat was a wake-up call.
Was there even a shot on target? It was easily Villa’s worst performance under Bruce, but the worrying thing was that it was a continuance of questionable performances against Leeds and even the Wigan game.
We’re on Sky again, but this time we face a QPR side in 18th place, so three points should be an easier task than on Tuesday.
It is 25 years since Villa last won at Loftus Road. Can we prevail in our third televised match in four games?
Steve Bruce on Norwich disappointments
“We simply didn’t perform anywhere near the level we’re used to. If that was something to do with it then I’ll have learned from it.
“And certainly I’ll make a few changes on Sunday to freshen us up if that is the excuse. But make no mistake about it we’re only halfway through the campaign so it shouldn’t be a case of fatigue or fitness or whatever.
“I think it was a mentality set that we thought we could just go there. But with this Championship I’ve said frequently if you don’t be honest and genuine in it you’re going to struggle.
Steve Bruce on QPR
“There’s another club who have been in the Premier League, struggled, spent lots of money, changed. They’ve now brought back Ian Holloway and with all of his enthusiasm and what he’s done at that club, they’re always going to be a difficult opponent.
“Whether we’re playing clubs at the top end or the bottom end, they cause you different problems. The one thing you have to do yourself is be ready and do your own job.
“If we do that and get to a level where we know we’re capable of then we stand a chance.“
Villa have not won an away League game at loftus road since 1991
27th October 2014 QPR 2 Villa 0
A double from Charlie Austin saw off Lambert’s Villa.
QPR – Last five matches at home: W 2, L 3
Villa: Last five matches away: W 1, D 2, L 2
One to Watch
Idrissa Sylla – The striker has scored six goals in 18 for QPR this season and could return from injury in this game.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
This will be the first meeting between QPR and Villa in the second tier since the 1972/73 season. During that campaign, QPR won both games and were promoted. This is looking unlikely this season, but it’s still a tough game, particularly so given our abject display in mid-week.
Steve Bruce has now lost two away games on the trot and it serves as a reminder of how difficult promotion will be.
Certainly it shouldn’t undo the good work Bruce has done, but there’s clearly a problem with the squad – this at least looks to have been noticed with the January transfer rumours continuing to spread.
Whether it was in the interests of rotation and freshness only Bruce knows, but the starting XI on Tuesday was slightly bizarre.
We don’t tend to get results visiting Loftus Road. We’ve not won an away League game there since 1991, drawing three and losing four since then.
Worryingly, QPR have scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 matches against Villa in all competitions, although these were games in which both teams were usually scrapping against relegation.
QPR have struggled following the return of Ian Holloway but form seems to go out of the window when Villa are in town – Norwich’s form was terrible before Tuesday’s game.
It’s difficult to predict just how different the squad will be on Sunday – but will a starting XI rethink make much of a difference?
“We simply didn’t perform anywhere near the level we’re used to” – Bruce on tuesday’s defeat
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Earlier in the season Ian Holloway, then a Sky Sports pundit, predicted a season of struggle for Villa. He even warned that Villa could suffer a second consecutive relegation, although to be fair that was before our Summer spending spree.
Unfortunately, we haven’t done a whole lot to prove Holloway wrong, but we’ve got a decent chance of three points on Sunday, if we play to our full potential.
Holloway himself has promotion credentials, but despite winning his first game back at QPR, it’s been difficult since then for the ex-Blackpool manager.
Bruce said he’s got plenty of players waiting for a chance in his Villa side, and this could potentially refresh the side. A return of usual starters Adomah and Baker, who could return from injury, would help even more (although Adomah made a late appearance against Norwich).
McCormack and Gardner could also be lined up for a starting position this Sunday and it might be that Bruce demotes the likes of Ayew and Agbonlahor to the bench. A start for Tshibola could be a decent option given his encouraging performances under Di Matteo.
It’s hard to get too positive about Sunday’s game given our away form, but Bruce’s honest assessment of the Norwich debacle is reason enough to hope substantial changes have been made. A rethink in our approach on Sunday could improve our chances against QPR, and set us going on a winning run as 2016 comes to an end.
Let’s hope we can make up for Tuesday’s televised woes this weekend.
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