QPR v Watford: Rangers’ rare cup run to run out of stream

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THE always-excellent James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at Friday night's FA Cup 5th Round showdown between QPR and Watford at Loftus Road.

QPR v Watford | Friday 15th February 2019, 19:45 | BT Sport

It is becoming an all-too familiar tale for Queens Park Rangers.

A few months ago, it looked as if a real tilt at the play-offs was possible, however that is no longer the case. They are in fact closer to the relegation zone than they are the final play-off position, but they probably are set for another mid-table campaign.

Considering the financial situation at the football club, Steve McClaren is probably doing as well as can be expected. It means the FA Cup takes on extra importance, especially with finances available and a big game against Premier League opposition in front of the cameras on Friday night.

Watford are having an excellent season in the top-flight. The top six are very much in their own league, but the Hornets find themselves second in the ‘best of the rest’; sitting behind Wolves.

Javi Gracia has embraced the job since his surprise appointment and he has turned the Hornets into a well-drilled outfit. Get past this round and then the FA Cup very much looks like a realistic prospect for them.

Banana skin territory?

This is probably a draw that both teams are relatively happy with. QPR are at home, whilst Watford will be glad to avoid one of the bigger clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

It certainly falls into the banana skin category for the Premier League team. The reality is that Watford are now an established team in that league and they will be expected to win this game. They have won both their FA Cup games 2-0, both away from home, in the competition so far, and they’d gladly take a repeat.

They shall be wary of the fact that QPR will be up for this and they should embrace the underdog mentality. However, they had to play in midweek away in Bristol City, where they suffered a last-minute defeat. Watford have had a full week to prepare.

Watford are odds-on to win this game – ehilst that is understandable, it is just not a price I can get into. This is the FA Cup and there is still some magic in the air from time-to-time. QPR can win this game, but Watford are undoubtedly a better team, and if they perform then they should get the job done. The fact that this game has to be decided on the night adds a little more spice to the occasion as well.

Hornets can conquer

QPR have certainly reserved their stronger displays for Loftus Road for quite some time now. Twenty-three of their 39 Championship points has come here. Whilst that is the case, it is still one of the lower home points tallies in the league. Only six teams have fewer points on home soil. QPR have shipped four goals in each of their last two Championship home games. Possibly being without Joel Lynch here would only weaken them defensively even more.

One thing Watford have been doing on the road quite well of late is score goals. In fact, in their last eight on the road in all competitions, they have netted at least two goals in six of them. They clearly retain a goal threat, whilst they also hold one of the stronger away records in the Premier League.

I don’t picture an upset on this occasion, but it certainly would not surprise me if one did arrive. Watford to win and Over 1.5 Goals is my selection at 7/5 (Coral).

Watford are the side I want to be with. Games at Loftus Road always seem to end up quite end-to-end and if that is to happen again, it should really be favouring Watford – 85% of Watford’s Premier League games and 73% of QPR’s home league games have beat the 1.50 goal line.

Best Bets

QPR v Watford – Watford to win and Over 1.5 Goals (7/5 Coral)

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