This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
QPR lost their second game on the spin after suffering defeat to Cardiff on Wednesday night, following a 2-0 loss to West Brom on Saturday.
Goals from Sean Morrison, Marlon Pack and Callum Paterson gave Neil Warnock’s side a 3-0 win over the Cardiff boss’ former side, but one early moment saw Mark Warburton’s game plan unravel – a moment that witnessed two players’ best traits utilised to perfection.
As previously detailed by us, Sean Morrison and Aden Flint are dominant players in the air, and we suggested that the former Brentford boss avoids long balls against the Bluebirds as the Cardiff duo would simply win the majority of the battles.
While Warburton seemingly followed our advice with a free-flowing performance that saw his side complete 483 passes to Cardiff’s 184 – with 458 of them being short passes as per WhoScored – his sensible gameplan began to come apart after one early moment in which the pair’s aerial dominance stood out in a more offensive capacity.
After just 11 minutes they combined for the opening goal. Flint leapt highest to win the first ball, before Morrison threw himself at the second ball to head home into the net.
And that was a bit of a theme – Flint grabbed the assist for Morrison’s goal and in total won three aerial duels in QPR’s half, highlighting Cardiff’s propensity to use his best quality. Morrison was clearly a huge beneficiary, having scored the opener.
Flint, formerly of Bristol City, has won 5.6 aerial duels per game in the Championship this season, whereas Morrison has averaged 5.4 – the latter won the WhoScored Man of the Match award for his performance against QPR.
Warburton did well to ensure that his side kept the ball on the ground for the majority of the game, but that 11th minute moment saw Cardiff’s aerial might come to the fore in a different manner, and QPR weren’t able to deal with it.
It gave the R’s an uphill battle for the remaining 79 minutes of the game, allowed Cardiff a foothold to eventually secure a 3-0 win.