Why QPR's derby with Fulham has added importance for Warburton's side
PUBLISHED: 15:30 21 November 2019
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Queens Park Rangers travel to rivals Fulham for a Championship clash on Friday in an important game for Mark Warburton and his side.
There is no getting away from the fact that QPR's recent run of form has fallen well below the standards they set themselves in that incredible run earlier this season.
Rangers' convincing 3-1 win over Wigan Athletic at the end of August sparked a run which saw them win four Championship games in a row, leaving supporters dreaming of a potential play-off finish.
Even two defeats in a week to West Brom and Cardiff were followed up by victories over Blackburn and Hull, making it six wins from eight to leave them fifth in a table.
While QPR's defensive woes have continued to prove troublesome this season, their ability to outscore teams has, at times, made them a force to be reckoned with.
But those defensive issues have become even more apparent in their recent run of four games without a win.
Individual mistakes and a lack of organisation in defence have caused Rangers to concede at least twice in the last eight games, while they are still yet to keep a clean sheet this season - the only team in the top four leagues to boast that stat.
All of these problems came to the surface in the 3-1 west London derby defeat to Brentford at the end of October.
Ollie Watkins was allowed a free header from a ball into the box to open the scoring and although a poor penalty decision was to blame for Brentford's second, the Bees deserved to pick up all three points as they constantly threatened an underperforming back-line.
That is what makes Friday's local derby with Fulham so important for Mark Warburton and his side.
Rangers can end a poor run of form and make amends for their recent derby defeat by beating the Cottagers, while three points could act as a springboard to get back to their earlier season form.
Mark Warburton has said that his side is "capable of more" and now is the perfect time to show that.
The job he has done so far has been phenomenal. Bringing in so many new faces in the summer and creating a team which has gelled as well it has done and plays the exciting football that they do is no easy task and they are not expected to challenge for promotion.
But it is pivotal that they stay fighting at the right end of the table and to go five without a win and lose two derbies in quick succession would be damaging.
Of course, travelling to a side who are one of the promotion favourites and sit above Rangers in the league table is not an easy task and one they will not be favourites to win.
Like the R's, Fulham have scored plenty of goals this season at 24, two less than Warburton's side.
Aleksandar Mitrovic's absence through suspension does however hand a huge boost to the R's and one they must take advantage of.
Friday night's game will be played in front of the Sky cameras, something Rangers have a notoriously bad record in doing in recent times, so also presents a chance for them to show the footballing world what they are really capable of.
And as we've already seen this season, Rangers at their best are a match for anybody.