Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Queens Park Rangers at Emirates Stadium on Friday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Queens Park Rangers have failed to collect a single point on the road this season - but it’s worth considering the difficulty of those matches, which have all been against top-half opposition.
"Redknapp started the season with a three-man defence, but after repeated problems he switched to a traditional back four"
There were a couple of horrendous performances on the road early in the season, with 4-0 defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United, but things have improved and Harry Redknapp’s side might prove difficult to break down, and a threat on the break.
Defensively, Redknapp started the season with a three-man defence, but after repeated problems he switched to a traditional back four, which has brought more stability.
QPR boast some solid centre backs like Richard Dunne, Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker, although they lack pace in this position.
Full back is an interesting position, because Redknapp assembled this season’s squad expecting to be using wing backs. Mauricio Isla, for example, is less comfortable in a back four and therefore could be used in midfield on Boxing Day.
On the opposite flank, ex-Gunner Armand Traore is another more comfortable bombing forward, rather than sticking tight to the centre backs. Nedim Onuoha and Yun Suk-Young are more defensively solid alternatives.
In the centre of midfield, QPR are combative rather than creative: Karl Henry and Joey Barton could form a duo at Emirates Stadium. Sandro, who brings more positional discipline to the side, has struggled with injury, while the impressive box-to-box midfielder Leroy Fer has often been deployed on the left.
QPR are hardworking in this position, which might sound like damning them with faint praise, but a lack of commitment appeared to be their downfall two seasons ago.
Going forward, Redknapp has often used his attackers intelligently; his three main centre forwards offer completely different qualities. Chilean Eduardo Vargas is hardworking and pacy, Bobby Zamora can hold the ball up excellently, while Charlie Austin is a fine finisher and has adapted well to the Premier League after a disappointing first few weeks of the campaign.
Redknapp could field anywhere between one and three of these - with the potential to play a 4-4-2 with Vargas on the right wing - although he’ll probably be more cautious.
A very defensive approach would see Fer and Isla deployed on the flanks, but Redknapp does have the luxury of more exciting players. Junior Hoilett is a powerful dribbler who can help QPR counter-attack, while Niko Kranjcar is a hugely talented, inventive playmaker who enables the side to retain the ball in advanced positions.
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