QPR v Fulham: Kamara the key

Unbelievable Kamara – gettyimages.com.au

Ian Holloway described his side’s first half performance against Burton Albion last week as the worst he’d ever seen. The half-time arrivals of Matt Smith and Bright Osayi-Samuel inspired an improved second half, which saw Jamie Mackie and Luke Freeman both come close on more than one occasion, but they couldn’t find a way through.

It was a performance that highlighted QPR’s need for a convincing front-man. Since the 2-0 win over Reading on the opening day, the partnership of Mackie and Conor Washington hasn’t yet clicked. Both players work hard enough, but neither quite benefit from the Rs making 26 crosses per game, more than any other side. To truly maximize Washington’s potential he needs a bigger striker alongside him, perhaps Smith, capable of getting the initial knock-downs.

Fulham play 15 crosses per game, fewer than any other side, but they too need to find a natural line-leading striker within their ranks. So far this season they have played the likes of Floyd Ayite and Rui Fonte down the middle and both are creative, but neither quite provided the physicality or ruthlessness one would want from a number nine. Aboubakar Kamara’s substitute appearance against Middlesbrough on Saturday though – and his goal at Nottingham Forest – suggested he might be the missing piece of the jigsaw.

His touch is not yet all it could be, which means he is not a replacement for Chris Martin, but on the flip side he is quicker and able to run in behind. Kamara, who is 8/5 to score anytime with NetBet Sport, could provide a stern test of QPR’s defence. That rear-guard faced criticism early in the season but, has conceded just once in two games, helped by the midfield tenacity of Josh Scowen.

Ian Holloway has brought some passion back to the club and while he’s in charge, we can expect to see 11 players fighting for the shirt. They have taken more points (five) than any other team from matches in which they are behind at half-time. Their performance at Barnsley on Tuesday was not the best, but Freeman came up with an impressive 87th-minute strike to earn a point.

That spirit is something Fulham must be wary of. They play at such a high intensity that, in the last few minutes, they sometimes lose some energy and have paid for that on several occasions. In Kamara though, they might just have a striker capable of killing games off before fatigue becomes an issue.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2