Dan Evans’ takeaways from QPR’s 2-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday – Rare Armstrong start fails to pay off as Cifuentes takes responsibility for defeat

QPR missed the chance to ease fears of relegation from the Championship after they were beaten 2-0 by fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday at Loftus Road on Saturday.

Here are Dan Evans’ takeaways from the game.


The main talking point from Marti Cifuentes’ team selection was the decision to begin the game with Sinclair Armstrong upfront.

QPR made five changes in total from the team that won 1-0 at Swansea City on Easter Monday, and this was Armstrong’s first start since the defeat to Stoke City on February 14.

The Irish striker has had to play second fiddle to both Lyndon Dykes and January signing Michael Frey in recent weeks and has been restricted solely to substitute appearances.

But with Frey missing out entirely against Wednesday due to injury, it was Armstrong who Cifuentes turned to.

The 20-year-old started the game brightly, getting the better of Wednesday defender Bambo Diaby on more than one occasion thanks to his speed and directness.

He registered QPR’s only shot on target of the game in the 12th minute with an effort from the edge of the box that was easily held by James Beadle, but from that point onwards Rangers found it more and more difficult to get him involved in the game.

He cut an isolated figure in what remained of the first half, with Ilias Chair, Lucas Andersen and Chris Willock struggling to provide him with the attacking support he required.

A few more rampaging runs followed after the interval, but Armstrong passed up a headed chance to equalise in the final minutes after a Paul Smyth long throw had been allowed to bounce in the Wednesday penalty area.

He ended up having the joint-fewest touches of any player that started the game – aside from Wednesday’s Ian Poveda who was taken off injured after 29 minutes – meaning it remains unclear who Cifuentes’ best option to lead the line is in the final weeks of the season.


Despite the setback against Wednesday – QPR’s 10th home defeat of this testing season – Cifuentes and his side are still in a far more promising position than many would have expected just a few short months ago.

The fact they currently find themselves outside of the relegation zone is largely down to the team’s improved performances since the change of head coach.

Cifuentes has always been reluctant to take credit for positive results, instead giving credit to the players at every available opportunity.

However, this does not mean that he has laid the blame with them following defeats.

The Spaniard went a step further on Saturday, insisting that he was as much at fault as anyone for the result as he felt that he did not properly prepare his players for the intensity that Wednesday would play with.

Few among the Loftus Road faithful would suggest that Cifuentes has been anything other than a net positive in terms of QPR’s chances of avoiding relegation, and it was therefore surprising that he felt so personally responsible.

Time will tell if it was simply a psychological tactic to maintain the confidence of his squad heading into these crucial final games of the campaign and, if it works, it will stand as another example of the 41-year-old’s astute control of the situation he has walked into in W12.


Cifuentes has made a habit of finding tactical solutions to problems posed by opponents within matches, and he almost repeated the trick against Wednesday.

The QPR boss admitted after the game that his side had been second-best throughout and did not deserve anything from the contest, yet they had several chances to equalise following Djeidi Gassama’s opening goal.

A contributing factor to this was a triple substitution in the 69th minute that saw Morgan Fox, Paul Smyth and Lyndon Dykes replace Kenneth Paal, Jake Clarke-Salter and Isaac Hayden.

Rangers’ formation become somewhat chaotic, with Smyth filling in at right-back at times as Jimmy Dunne was left further up the field to provide an aerial threat in attack.

But the switch crucially brought Willock into a more central position, and this made the home side a far more threatening prospect in attack.

Andersen struck the underside of the crossbar with the best chance to level, while Dunne and Armstrong both passed up headed opportunities in the final 10 minutes.

Anthony Musaba settled the game in the sixth minute of stoppage time, meaning Cifuentes’ tactical alterations counted for little, but it was not for the want of trying.


This defeat means that Wednesday have done the double of home and away wins against QPR this season.

While this surely won’t bother Cifuentes as long as his side are the right side of the dotted line come the end of the season, it continues a trend of indifferent form against the other sides in relegation danger.

Rangers have not beaten Huddersfield Town or Plymouth Argyle this season along with Wednesday. They could only draw in the away fixture against a Rotherham United side that has already been relegated, and away defeats to Millwall and Stoke City have the potential to be very damaging come the end of the season.

By comparison, Wednesday have collected 28 points against sides that are currently placed 16th and below in the Championship table, and they have Stoke and Blackburn Rovers still to play.

QPR have picked up 19 in the same fixtures, and only have Tuesday night’s trip to Plymouth left in terms of fixtures against the strugglers.

But with the majority of Rangers’ points coming against teams from the top two-thirds of the league table, perhaps it is a situation they should be comfortable with.


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