QPR 2-0 Coventry City
The cover image, kick-off, presents the only parity in this game.
This is all in reflection, but in-game you might have seen some of the issues about to be raised. This is a trend in Coventry being beaten without much being done from the side to affect the opponent.
Austin dropped deep to receive the ball. DaCosta pressed high exposing the channel, and the back three.
DaCosta recovers, but note the overload at the back post versus McCallum. QPR did very well to expose the channels behind the wingbacks when they advanced. In this moment, it was DaCosta and the covering back three are left exposed behind. 1-0.
Strength in depth?
Coventry have tried to be hard to beat with numbers behind the ball, but in this instance, you can see that a clever opponent, such as QPR can expose that depth. After a very disoriented opening 6 minutes, Coventry tried to make the game messy, winning scrappy battles, but losing the ball results in excellent players like Chair receiving the ball in space. Beyond him, its a 4v1.
A deep line does not want to be pulled out of position, so Austin drops between the lines and receives the ball. He did so for the first goal and caused problems for Coventry with such 'simple' movement against a rigid line-up.
Whilst Coventry wanted to sit deep, note the circles for how QPR ruined Coventry's game plan. Johanson and Field were instrumental in controlling the game. You can see Austin pointing back over his shoulder at the overload that QPR had created. This was after moving the ball in from the right. Coventry, still deep, now shuttle across the midfield. All 11 players are behind the ball. To win the ball here would result in an instant turnover with no outlet.
Barbet, the left-center back for QPR, played the most passes in the game (79) and often found himself in the position you see below. The number of passes from Barbet should give the answer as to the favorite side for attacking.
DaCosta came in for a lot of criticism in this game, and the QPR Commentary picked on him too, but look how clever the QPR attack is. Willock, in this instance, pulls wide. Allen and James cannot recover to help cover so DaCosta goes out, but it creates a huge gap for the runners in behind.
How do you combat this?
You might adjust to a 4-4-2 or even a 4-5-1. Why? After 30 minutes the trend was already clear.
All of the threats came down the wing. Adjust to deal with it.
If the game is a write-off, as the line-up may have suggested, then why not act out of the ordinary and be proactive to get control of an opponent that had a great day out.
Below you can see Coventry pressing in a 5-2-3. Note the arrows. It explains why QPR played through so easily. Godden steps. Field receives between the line. OR ball goes out to Barbet, as covered above.
There are no metrics for this, as far as I can tell, but if you watch this again look for how quickly QPR gets into midfield with the ball - that changes the game!
The movement in this phase cannot be explained by arrows. It was perhaps made better by the disorganized, exposed back-line (note DaCosta again). However, the run distracted Rose, giving an extra step to Chair, running beyond Austin. The attempt resulted in a corner, which was the second goal.
The first 30 minutes, when Coventry got the ball, looked like a long ball to, or near, Godden. Playing against Cameron, the outcome was always obvious. Previously, this approach has had an impact on teams with Coventry able to get up in support, but not in this game with such a deep line.
There were chances for Coventry after 30 minutes. Matty James had an opportunity and header on goal that was saved comfortably from a corner. There were several moments to reinforce the idea that we only start playing after two goals, but it didn't even last 10 minutes before QPR almost scored again.
No changes at halftime.
No changes likely had several scratching their heads and wondering why. especially when Coventry made three subs and had an instant impact with Walker having a shot blocked.
The argument for two strikers almost started there. Walker and Gyokeres looked alive and promising, but the damage was done early on and Coventry never really looked up for it beyond this moment of excitement. There were many comments regarding the effort and seeming lack of ambition in this game. I would agree and think the tone was set before kick-off with the line-up and as soon as the goal goes in after 1 minute, the writing is on the wall. So, I wanted to see some adventure and attempts to make a difference, but that back three likely isn't going anywhere.