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’s forwards are in fine form but Mark Warburton showed against Middlesbrough that he isn’t afraid to mix things up, and that means he should try another alteration to bring the best out of his players.
Last weekend the R’s boss made the somewhat bold decision to drop Jordan Hugill from the starting line-up, despite the fact he has scored seven league goals, opting instead to deploy Ilias Chair in a more advanced role.
Warburton will believe his change paid off as Chair slipped in Nahki Wells to score QPR’s equaliser, but the striker may have faired even better if he had Eberechi Eze alongside him instead.
The 21-year-old often played in the number 10 role last season and though he didn’t produce the goals and assists – with four and four respectively – Steve McClaren may have hoped for, he did improve and his productivity this term means he would be suitable playing higher up the pitch.
With a pacy and intelligent strike partnership of Eze and Wells, and the freedom they’d both have, the R’s would be a more potent attacking threat, and ensure the club’s better finishers are well-positioned when chances are created.
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Warburton has got the best out of his attacking players, so it is worth bearing in mind that the style of play he has implemented is likely to lead to chances, but with Eze up-front it increases the likelihood of those opportunities being converted.
Unlike Chair, who has no goals, the forward has contributed six goals and four assists this term, but his all-round game makes him an ideal partner for Wells, and their link-up play could be a great avenue for goals.
Not only has Eze averaged 87% pass accuracy in the league, but also 3.1 successful dribbles per game and, crucially, 1.8 key passes per game.
As a result, getting him as close as possible to the opposition box, and to Wells, has to be the focus of Warburton. Playing in and around the final third is where he will be most effective, and if Wells could build even more of an understanding with him, he’d be sure to add to his impressive tally of 11 goals.
Doing so would also allow Chair to slot into his natural position of centre-midfield, while Hugill could act as an impact sub if Warburton wants to operate with better passers – the 27-year-old managing just 71% pass accuracy this term.