Saturday, October 24, 2020
Despite drawing another blank, this was a much-improved performance from Blues where they finally managed to add a goal threat to the defensive solidarity they’ve displayed all season.
5-3-2 this time, with the classy San Jose and Gardner coming into midfield and two up top in the form of Hogan and Leko. The banned Clayton and wide men Sanchez and Bela dropped out.
From the get-go, the full-backs got further forward than they’d managed in the whole of Tuesday’s dispiriting defeat at Norwich, where Blues failed to muster a shot on target, again.
And most of the threat from Blues did come from out wide. I lost count of the number of times that the ball fizzed across the QPR box just begging for the final touch. Indeed, it happened on a couple of occasions when Hogan put the ball in the net only for it to be chalked off for offside, the first of which looked marginal.
The main improvement was that chances were being created. You feel that if they can keep playing in this way that it only a matter of time until the goals come, as Leko continued to look lively and Hogan was as sharp as he has been since lockdown.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic. Without really testing Etheridge, there were periods of the game, particularly in the second half, when QPR cranked up the pressure and could have scored with better finishing or better choice of the final ball.
But, generally, Blues kept them at arms’ length, with Friend giving a defending master class, allowing Pedersen more freedom to get forward down the left-hand side, safe in the knowledge that the cover was there if needed.
As we’ve seen already with Dean, we may be witnessing the rehabilitation of Roberts. Asked to do what he does best – get in position and win the ball – he looked good in this formation. It was also encouraging to see the central defenders willing to bring the ball out of defence and venture forward, much in the style of Sheffield United.
While a goalless draw at QPR is no more a triumph than a narrow defeat at Carrow Road is a disaster, there were many encouraging signs from Blues at the Kyan Prince Stadium today.
QPR 0 – Blues 0