Plymouth Argyle and Queens Park Rangers will come into Saturday’s Carabao Cup First Round tie at Home Park looking to get their 2020/21 season off to the perfect start. The Pilgrims come into the tie full of confidence after gaining promotion back to League One under the management of Ryan Lowe. Meanwhile, QPR will be looking to start their season better than they finished the last, conceding nine goals in four games.
Centre-back Rob Dickie will make his competitive debut against Argyle. The 24-year-old signed from League One side Oxford United for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of at least £1 million.
Fellow new signing Lyndon Dykes will be unavailable, however. The former Livingston forward will be away on international duty with Scotland and is likely to be replaced by Aramide Oteh.
Defender Osman Kakay impressed following the lockdown break towards the end of last season and will surely be looking to make the position his own this forthcoming campaign.
Predicted Line-Up (4-2-3-1)
Kakay, Barbet, Dickie, Manning
Amos, Chair, Osayi-Samuel
Style of Play
Playing in a predominantly 4-2-3-1 formation, Mark Warburton’s side play a possession based style of football looking to dominate matches and limit the influence of their opponents. The Hoops averaged an impressive 53.6% of possession during games last season, ranking them fourth in the Championship, bettered only by promoted duo Leeds and Fulham as well as defeated Play-Off finalists Brentford.
Warburton encourages his side to be bold and get forward up the pitch as much as possible. The often gung-ho approach meant that QPR scored 67 goals last season, their highest tally in nine years, but they also conceded more than 70 goals for the third season running. Defender Rob Dickie has been brought in from Oxford to help shore up the defence.
With the exit of Eberechi Eze to Premier League side Crystal Palace, the baton will fall to fellow attacking midfielder Iias Chair to be one of the more creative outlets in the side. The 21-year-old enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season for Rangers after spending part of the previous campaign on-loan at League Two side Stevenage. Chair registered 10 goal contributions (4G, 6A) with predecessor Eze managing 22 (14G, 8A).
Whilst the youngster still needs to improve on his finishing, he is dangerous on the counter and likes to make long driving runs with the ball as his feet in order to stretch opposition sides. Chair as well as fellow attacker Bright Osayi-Samuel will likely be afforded more influence over the side to increase their attacking output this season to create chances for the likes of Lyndon Dykes and Aramide Oteh up front.
Former loanee Luke Amos has signed permanently from Tottenham and will be fighting it out with the likes of Geoff Cameron and Dominic Ball for a spot in the defensive midfield two. Former Swansea man Tom Carroll is on trial with the club and would provide another shrewd passing option in the middle. Amos is expected to play as a box-to-box midfielder, bridging the defence and attack whilst Ball and Cameron shield the back four providing a physical presence. The duo averaged amongst the highest number of tackles in the side with 2.33 and 2.27 per 90 minutes respectively.
Star Player: Bright Osayi-Samuel
The 22-year-old had been expected to leave QPR this transfer window and has already turned down a move to Belgian outfit Club Brugge this summer. The former Blackpool man registered an impressive 13 goal contributions last season (5G, 8A), finishing runner up to Eze in the club’s Player of the Season awards. The departure of Eze to the Premier League will likely see Osayi-Samuel take over as the club’s main man in terms of a creator.
With an abundance of pace, Osayi-Samuel likes to run down the channels, dribbling past opponents and creating chances from out wide. The youngster often doubles up as a second forward and whilst not particularly effective in the air at just 5ft 7in, his speed and positioning allow him to be a nuisance for opponents and find space in which to receive the ball.
Defensively, QPR were poor last season, conceding 76 goals in their 46 Championship matches. Only relegated Hull City (87) and 19th placed Luton Town (82) managed to concede more goals. This has been a long-term problem for the London side, shipping 70 or more goals in each of the last three seasons. Nigel Warburton has done little to combat the problem with only Rob Dickie coming in from Oxford whilst centre-back pair Grant Hall and Toni Leistner have left to join Middlesbrough and Hamburg respectively. Veteran Angel Rangel has also departed the club after suffering a long-term injury. This twinned without an out-and-out goalscorer in the side could prove to be their downfall this season.
Goals are less likely to come as freely as they did throughout last season. The likes of Nahki Wells, Jordan Hughill, Eberechi Eze and Grant Hall accounted for 45 of the 67 goals that QPR scored in the Championship last term. Dykes, Chair and Oseyi-Samuel will have big boots to fill during the upcoming season with manager Wartburton surely looking to bring in another attacking option before the end of the transfer window.
Prediction: Plymouth Argyle 3 QPR 2
The trio of Danny Mayor, George Cooper and Ryan Hardie in particular will be tasked with combining to find the gaps in the R’s leaky defence but will have to remain wary of the Hoops’ own abilities to hit on the counter-attack. Whether or not QPR will arrive with a full-strength side remains to be seen but for Argyle, with a tough season opener against Blackpool the following weekend, Ryan Lowe will want his side gelling and in top form to get their League One campaign off to the best possible start.
The absences of forward Luke Jephcott for the Pilgrims and Lyndon Dykes for Warburton’s side presents a like-for-like dilemma for the two managers which could have some bearing on the result Argyle are perhaps in a better position to deal with this, possessing a plethora of forward options at their disposal to replace the Welshman. Rangers however are likely to replace Dykes with the inexperienced Aramide Oteh. With much time off the tie could be a learning curve for both sides and with both sides possessing attacking philosophies, it could be a high scoring game.