QPR 2-0 Coventry City
Coventry set up this game to not get walked over like last season. Yet, there was still respect in the approach as you will see. Without knowing the score and watching the game, you might have wondered if Coventry won this one...
Coventry had 35% of possession in the first half. Last season versus QPR, Coventry struggled to go anywhere with slow possession and no real forward outlet. This time, with an energetic Gyokeres running ahead of the ball, Coventry looked to play direct and play quick, after being organized underneath possession.
Here you can see how QPR are fluid in their attack, partly due to the compactness of the Coventry line. Chair has dropped deep to get on the ball, but with Barbet running into trouble, McCallum tracked wide, and no real good forward options, Chair is forced backward.
Coventry completed just 245 passes in the defensive and middle thirds of the field. They clearly set up to counter attack with the deep 7 and two outlets ahead of the ball:
In one example, the ball went long from Moore to Gyokeres who combined with Hamer. As Gyokeres gets the ball back, Maatsen takes off and possession results in a cleared cross. However, you can see the body positions and the style of play that Coventry used in this game - Forward and quick. Take the game to QPR.
Importantly, the shape and counter attacking nature of the Coventry tactics meant that Coventry could also try to dictate where QPR had possession. QPR had 431 completed passes combined in the defensive and middle thirds.
This press, lead to several chances and errors from QPR who were intent on building from the back. O'Hare or Hamer would step into the front line to make a front 3, matching the QPR back 3. Behind them, Johansen and Barbet were never far from Sheaf and Hamer/O'Hare. The result, as you saw above was that Chair would drop deep to find the ball and his attacking threat could be dealt with.
However, the threat was always there from QPR whenever Coventry were exposed. In this moment, Willock moved inside to pick up a loose ball with Maatsen following. An excellent turn, and a high Coventry line, meant the ball in-behind for Chair was on. His cutback was eventually cut away, as a sign of Coventry's desire to defend collectively, but the threat was always there and in-part is the reason why Coventry set up this way from kick off.
Coventry were arguably the stronger team in the first half with more purpose to their attack. From 11 shots, though 5 were blocked, Coventry should have had two or three goals, including the opportunity after just 25 seconds. As always, missed chances haunt you and it rings no truer than the chance early in the first half and an almost identical chance in the second half. That could be 2-0.
QPR's constant threat came from wide. In transition moments like this Coventry were clever and fouled. Here Hamer brings down Chair as QPR look to switch play out to Ball. Coventry know the threat of McCallum, but QPR regularly got different players in key areas for crosses - Johansen (3), Odubajo (3), and Willock (4) all down the rightside.
The goals were disappointing from the Coventry perspective. The threat from wide was constant and then QPR added Dykes to the game. The left side of Coventry has been questioned a couple of times now, and this image shows the disconnect, leaving 1v1's wide means 'safer' defending, which often leads to defenders giving up the cross to prevent themselves getting beaten with the dribble.
Here, a diagonal pass pinned Coventry deep and Odubajo's cross was headed away for a corner. The resulting corner wasn't cleared and crossed again by Willock. The following knock-down fell to Dykes and it was 1-0.