3 key ar­eas of weak­ness in the QPR set-up that Sun­der­land must look to cap­i­talise upon

Sunderland Echo - - Sport - By Daniel Fowler

If Sun­der­land fans are look­ing for com­fort ahead of QPR’s visit to­mor­row, it’s that the Hoops have also been lick­ing the wounds af­ter a poor run of form.

With­out a win in five games, Rangers man­ager Ian Hol­loway was less than chirpy go­ing into the in­ter­na­tional break leav­ing fans – like their Black Cats coun­ter­parts – re­flect­ing on en­cour­ag­ing start to the sea­son go­ing to waste.

But ex­actly how can Sun­der­land add to Hol­loway’s pain? Here’s our scout­ing re­port from in­side the QPR camp on their weak­nesses.

1 Dirty sheets

De­spite lea ki ng goals them­selves this sea­son, Sun­der­land can take con­fi­dence from the fact the Rs are sim­i­larly frail.

They re­cently shipped two goals against Mill­wall and Ful­ham, as well as three against Mid­dles­brough.

Los­ing cap­tain and for­mer Sun­der­land loan sign­ing Ne­dum On­uoha to a torn ham­string has not helped Hol­loway’s plans.

But the QPR boss’s tin­ker­ing – he has used eight de­fend­ers this sea­son – also hardly lends it­self to con­sis­tent clean sheets.

2 Travel sick­ness

Hav­ing scored just five Cham­pi­onship goals on their trav­els, Hol­loway’s men are un­sur­pris­ingly also witho ut a league win away from Lof­tus Road so far. De­spite a spir­ited per­for­mance in a 3-2 de­feat at Boro last month, the strug­gle of for­mer de­fen­sive main­stays such as Steven Caulker for form and fit­ness has been dam­ag­ing. Goal­keeper Alex Smithies has also not been the calm­ing in­flu­ence he was last sea­son af­ter a sum­mer in which he was linked with a Premier League move.

3 Don’t give Free­man any free­dom

Luke Free­man (pic­tured) has been in fine form, win­ning WhoS­cored.com’s Cham­pi­onship Player of the Month award for Septem­ber, with an av­er­age rat­ing of 7.78 out of 10.

He led the Cham­pi­onship in shots and key passes last month, while also rank­ing sec­ond-high­est in drib­bles.

The abil­ity of Free­man – an ever present this sea­son – to go past play­ers in break­ing forward from mid­field re­minds Rangers’ fans of Adel Taarabt ter­ror­is­ing the sec­ond tier in their 2010/11 pro­mo­tion cam­paign.

Sun­der­land’s key task is clear: close down Free­man and stop his cre­ativ­ity.

Rangers’ for­mer Sun­der­land de­fender Ne­dum On­uoha.

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