QPR face a tough test as they prepare to take on Ipswich Town at Loftus Road.
But what can expect from Mick McCarthy's Tractor Boys? We caught up with the Chief football writer at the East Anglian Daily Times, Stuart Watson for the lowdown on the visitors.
What to expect from Ipswich
A makeshift defence consisting of four full-backs. All three senior centre-backs – Luke Chambers, Tommy Smith and Adam Webster – suffered medium-term injuries in the opening month, meaning left-back Jonas Knudsen and right-back Jordan Spence have had to move inside for the last two games. Town were desperate to sign a recognised centre-back on deadline day, but ended up scrambling to sign versatile teenage defender Callum Connolly on loan from Everton at 10pm.
Overview of transfer business
Mick McCarthy recognised that a major freshening up of the squad was required following last year’s limp 16th place finish. Altogether, 14 players departed – most notably defensive stalwart Christophe Berra and star loanee Tom Lawrence – with eight players having arrived.
Key arrivals: Emyr Huws (Cardiff, £1m), Joe Garner (Rangers, £750k), Bersant Celina (Man City, loan), Tom Adeyemi (Cardiff, free), Jordan Spence (free agent), Dominic Iorfa (Wolves, loan), Martyn Waghorn (Rangers, £250k), Callum Connolly (Everton, loan).
Key departures: Christophe Berra (Hearts, free), Tom Lawrence (loan expired), Jonathan Douglas (released), Brett Pitman (Portsmouth, free), Josh Emmanuel (Rotherham, loan).
Results so far this season
Off the back of a lowest finish in 58 years (16th), Ipswich won their opening four league games for the first time since 1974 – a 1-0 home win over Birmingham, 2-1 comeback win at Barnsley, rollercoaster 4-3 midweek victory at Millwall and 2-0 home win over Brentford. Credit for the character shown in doing that, but there’s no doubt they rode their luck for significant spells in all of those matches. The comprehensive 2-0 home defeat to Fulham prior to the international break was major reality check.
The Carabao Cup, unusually, provided positives. The youngest team in the club’s history (average age 20) pushed Premier League side Crystal Palace all the way in a 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park in the second round.
Strikers Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn have proved an instant hit with fans following their arrival from Rangers for a combined £1m. Ex-Preston man Garner is a pest of a front man who ruffles feathers and fires up team-mates and supporters alike, while the direct Waghorn (signed as the No.9) has hit the ground running playing wide right due to injuries. The pair have already scored seven goals between them already.
Town started the season playing the wing-back system which was integral to their successful relegation fight at the back end of 2016/17, but are currently playing what is best described as 4-2-3-1. It allows four out-and-out strikers to play, with Waghorn, David McGoldrick and Freddie Sears in behind Garner.
Predicted team selection
Bialkowski; Iorfa, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock; Skuse, Ward; Waghorn, McGoldrick, Sears; Garner.
That’s the team which was passed off the park by Fulham prior to the international break. McCarthy’s options for change are limited with so many players sidelined. As well as defenders Chambers, Smith and Webster, there’s a whole host of central midfielders out too in the form of Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell. Midfield duo Tom Adeyemi and Luke Hyam have both returned to action in the Under-23s recently and could come into contention, while new Everton loanee Callum Connolly can play anywhere across the back four.
Score prediction - QPR 2 Ipswich 1
I hate to be pessimistic, but there worrying signs in the 2-0 home loss to Fulham. Yes, Fulham were excellent, but Ipswich didn’t help themselves and, as previously mentioned, they rode their luck in previous wins. Home wins against Reading and Hull will surely give QPR confidence.