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The two bottom of the table last season, Queens Park Rangers Welcome London rivals Millwall to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Saturday, hoping to fight for a place in the top six this season.
As QPR seeks to improve from ninth, the Lions will attempt to advance to the playoffs for the first time since returning to the championship in 2017.
Prediction for this match
Optimism has been abundant at QPR over the past few weeks, as a manager Mark Warburton tries to build on the foundations he laid in his first two years at the West London club.
After signing a new contract with the championship team, Warburton – previously on a one-year contract – will lead his team to the season opener against Millwall at the weekend with a familiar face by his side.
Given star striker Charlie AustinWhen his contract at West Bromwich Albion expired earlier this summer, the Hoops weren’t the only ones looking to secure his services after he was successfully loaned out last season.
It seemed like a natural fit for both parties as Austin signed on the dotted line, however, and the 32-year-old will be eager to regain his career best form after having made a serious impact on Premier League defenses earlier at the club.
Of course, Warburton will be delighted to keep such an integral cog in his attacking machine, and Austin scored two high-profile pre-season friendlies last month – when the Rangers maintained the comfort factor with a 4-2 win over Manchester United before holding Leicester City to the 3: 3 draw.
Since the coach’s appointment in 2019, positions 13th and ninth have helped stabilize a troubled team as they had survived a long period of time after relegation from the first division four years earlier. Now a repetition of the 3-2 win in March against Millwall on home turf would make their promotion a flyer.
Lions chief Gary RowettMeanwhile, he took one last look at his options ahead of Saturday’s game with a final practice game on Wednesday.
Previously, his Millwall side had beaten both Motherwell and Ipswich Town cleanly and drew 1-1 at Gillingham as they warmed up for another grueling championship campaign.
After a tough trip to Shepherd’s Bush this weekend, Rowett’s men will enjoy the rare prospect of three straight home games – two in the league and one against Portsmouth in the EFL Cup – so a successful start on the road could start their season perfectly.
Well-traveled striker Benik Afob is on loan from Stoke for one season after 15 career changes – including a loan at Trabzonspor last year – while others are new boys George Saville and Scott Malone bring further championship know-how through the door.
Afobe was briefly loaned to The Den by Arsenal in 2013 and has proven to be a key component in the intended expansion of the coach’s renowned repertoire to refine and destroy the momentum of others.
Both he and Malone finished their 3-0 win at Portman Road last week and will enjoy the prospect of resuming life in front of the fans at QPR, who ended up ending Millwall six points below last season. With more than 2,500 tickets allocated to the game, visitors are sure to be greeted by a noisy crowd.
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Mark Warburton has been involved in the transfer market, and QPR’s business has convinced many watchers that they can now withstand the rigors of an advertising campaign.
Seny Dieng established himself as the club’s number one last year, so should hold back the claims of new signings Jordan archer for his place between the posts while defenders in front of him Moses Odubajo spent most of the summer training with the Rangers and has now been awarded a contract. Jordy de Wijs is back with a permanent deal offering some steel to the back three.
Her two loan agreements that made the biggest impact were arguably Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen, with the latter now captain, and both will be used against Millwall this week after the full terms are signed.
The visitors will be there without one of their captains, however Mason Bennett will miss Saturday’s game due to injury, said the former Hoops striker Matt Smith could show up at some point.
While the bottom five may be occupied – if Gary Rowett opts for a 5-3-2 formation – there is a lot of competition for places in the Millwall midfield, with George Saville now joining Alex Pearce and George Evans and Maikel Kieftenbeld among those who argue.
Jed Wallace – who recently had a rib injury – and Benik Afobe both met last time, so they should start over.
Queens Park Rangers possible starting line-up:
Dieng; Odubajo, De Wijs, Dickie, Barbet, Wallace; Ball, chair, Johansen; Austin, Dykes
Millwall possible starting line-up:
Bialkowski; McNamara, Ballard, Hutchinson, Cooper, Malone; Pearce, Evans, Saville; Wallace, Afobe
Probability: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Millwall
Now with plenty of offense and defense options, QPR is sure to be poised to push into the top of the league table this season so that its campaign can begin with a win over Millwall.
Both coaches are skilled operators at this level, but the home side’s squad has a slightly more individual quality that should make the difference on Saturday.
Best betting tip for this match
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