18-goal contribution star can steer QPR away from the drop zone, here’s why

Queens’ Park Rangers have had a woeful start to the season and there are no signs of their fortunes changing anytime soon.
Life as a fan of Queen’s Park Rangers must be very miserable at the moment.
They finished 20th in the Championship last season with two of the three teams to get relegated, Reading and Wigan Athletic being on the receiving end of points deductions in the past year or so.

QPR have picked up from where they left off and this certainly is not a good thing.

At the time of writing, they are in 22nd and have accrued a mere two points from the last six outings.

Conceding goals is one issue for Gareth Ainsworth and his staff and at the other end, they simply aren’t scoring enough.

Chris Willock is regularly watching on from the sidelines and given that he was one of the hottest prospects in English football not too long ago, there is no reason why he couldn’t help change the fortunes of the West London club.

Goal of the season? Watch ex-Arsenal youngster Willock dribble from own  half to score screamer for QPR | Goal.com

Where does Chris Willock fit in?
On paper, Chris Willock and Ilias Chair sitting behind a solo striker, operating as a pair of number 10s who can also push out wide just makes sense.
Ainsworth seemingly doesn’t agree given that Willock has managed just 221 league minutes to date, starting only three games.

The situation is clearly dire when a defender is your top scorer and that is the case at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Kenneth Paal leading the way with three.

Sinclair Armstrong and Lyndon Dykes meanwhile have just one-a-piece and the aforementioned duo of Willock and Chair are yet to get off the mark themselves.

In some ways, 20-year-old striker Sinclair Armstrong is the key to changing things – he has two assists to his name as well as scoring for both the Republic of Ireland U21s and the first-team in 2023.

Armstrong and Dykes have a similar build and they both work very hard, meaning that one probably needs to make way.

Unleashing the former on Championship defences when he can intertwine with Chair and Willock is the suggestion being put forward here.

QPR may have been a much better side then but in 2021/22, Chris Willock put up 18 goal contributions whilst Ilias Chair also had a career-high return of 14. The Moroccan international scored nine and assisted five that season before doing the reverse of that in 2022/23.
Focusing on Chair for a second and his overall shot numbers haven’t decreased by a dramatic amount. 2.3/2.4 shots per game has become 2 shots per game but the major shift is that in previous seasons he has averaged 0.9 and 1.7 efforts on goal in the penalty area, whereas now it is just 0.6. This could well be as a result of both Dykes and Armstrong being on the field.

Returning to Willock and he has also seen a noticeable decrease, from 1.7 shots per 90 to 0.3 and 0.9 efforts in the penalty area to 0.3.

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Life for QPR under Gareth Ainsworth

Gareth Ainsworth has never been known for playing the most expansive of football as numerous teams in League One and Two learned when facing his Wycombe Wanderers side.

QPR wouldn’t have been expecting him to follow on from what someone like Mark Warburton had displayed so maybe the blame lies at the feet of the powers that be as opposed to the manager.

This season, Ainsworth has averaged 0.73 points per game which is slightly lower than that of his entire Rangers’ tenure, with that sitting at 0.76 from 25 matches.
His current deal runs until the summer of 2026 and he clearly knows the club having been a player there as well as a player-coach, assistant coach and even a caretaker manager for two stints in 2008 and 2009.

It will be fascinating to see if the hierarchy stick by their man or if they look elsewhere for a saviour with relegation to League One looming even this early in the season.



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