QPR have lost all nine of their away Premier league games thus far this season, and this realistically will have to change to ensure survival.
The London club remain outside the relegation zone due to outstanding home form, bar the only side left in the division to not win away this season – one would think this must have to change for them to stay up.
Arsenal’s defeat of Rangers on Boxing Day means that from their last 41 top-flight away games, they have won just two. This season they have scored just four times across nine away defeats, and now have one of the biggest disparities between their home and away form in Europe – the gap between them is 18 points.
Rangers manager Harry has pointed out that they’ve a side that has played some fantastic teams on the road this year. Considering eight of their nine away games thus far have been against teams who currently sit in the top half of the Premier league table, it would appear this is a contributory factor. Even so it’s rare to see a side head into the New Year pointless on the road so there are clearly other problems too.
QPR have been excellent at home, gaining 18 points from 10 games, which shows the players are clearly capable gaining results and precious Premier league points. However, much of this has been built upon a promising partnership between goalscorer Charlie Austin and target man Bobby Zamora up front. On away games the pair rarely play together, with the Newcastle defeat a rare occasion where two strikers were used. At Everton Austin was suspended, so Chilean international Eduardo Vargas started up front alone, a role which, as a small and quick striker who lacks physical presence, he was totally unsuited to.
As a side fighting desperately to avoid the relegation trapdoor, a more defensive approach is understandable, but they appear to have taken this too far. No Premier league sides had fewer shots on target away from home this season than the R’s. That simply cannot continue if they want to stay up.
Leroy Fer suffers from Redknapp’s more defensive approach in away games, which stifles the Dutch international’s natural creativity and defensive abilities. At Loftus Road this season Fer has been excellent, evident when he ran the game during the first half against Liverpool, hitting the bar twice. From the left side of midfield he is enjoyed the freedom to cut infield, giving him a chance to utilise his excellent long-range shooting ability and ghost into the opposition penalty-area. However, similarly to his time at Norwich City’s last season, Fer’s creative abilities are being wasted away from home, where he is evidently been offered less freedom to get forward.
The display at Arsenal on Boxing Day proved the Rangers squad has no shortage of character and determination, assisted by the presence of plenty of experienced faces, many of whom have been in relegation battles before. This, combined with promising home form, potential January transfer window additions and more favourable fixtures suggests Rangers will improve their away form.
Moreover, imminent loan arrival Mauro Zarate is talented and could offer a new dimension as an attacking threat. But current evidence also suggests a tactical rethink is also necessary to ensure Rangers collect the away points needed to gain Premier League survival.