1. Moyes Tactics – Selection wise, Moyes tinkered (un-necessarily??) and went with Pienaar central and Mirallas left side with Anichebe playing on the right flank in front of Coleman in something resembling 4-2-3-1. After 20 minutes the selection was reversed with Pienaar / Mirallas swopping.
2. Baines Man Marked – QPR deployed the athletic J.S. Park in pretty much a man marking role on Baines – the QPR man had the fewest touches of any home player in the first 45mins with his role basically to track Baines up and down the flank. In the second half with Baines given a more defensive brief at 10 v 11 Park was able to get on the ball more and impose himself offensively.
3. Neville Nightmare – We made the worst possible start with Neville losing a 50-50 with one time Moyes target Junior Hoilett running the length of the pitch to score somewhat fortuitously after a deflection. Perhaps Hoilett should have been tactically fouled before he got into our half.
4. Square pegs, round holes – Anichebe attacking right side didn’t work. Taraabt was cutting in from this flank with Anichebe not supporting Coleman. This meant Neville was increasingly coming to the flank to support leaving a big hole in the centre of midfield with Osman often left 1 v 2 on Diakite and Granero (who ran the midfield). The player touch / importance visual below shows this. Fellaini was a big miss here as usually he can drop in and support when we are under the cosh. When Naismith came on he did well in probably his best outing in a blue shirt so far.
5. QPR Aerial Weakness – As noted in the preview, QPR can’t defend the aerial ball into their box. Whilst we never got our act together on the deck we looked most threatening aerially with Distin’s goal and Jagielka’s header that came back of the bar our best chances.
6. Poor Passing – Passing wise, we never got going. The only period we dominated the ball was in the 16-30min period during which Pienaar had switched with Mirallas when we had 58% of the ball; in the other 5 x15 min periods QPR had more of the ball and kept it better……
7. Forward Passing – Despite having less of the ball we created as much as our hosts with 13 chances each. As the below shows we were a bit more progressive than our hosts with a higher % of forward passes although we made a higher proportion of backward passes.
The absence of Fellaini was also felt in the final third; for the first game this season our opponent had more final third touches than we did with the ‘out-ball’ to Fellani’s chest to get bodies up the pitch a big miss throughout.
8. Pienaar Sending Off – Pienaar’s dismissal was a crass decision and although we looked to counter when we could – notably through Mirallas who played well – it ended our hopes of kicking on and going for the win. It also leaves us light for the next game. Oviedo could come in perhaps but Mirallas will probably be the most likely option.
9. The Jag – Phil Jagielka was comfortably our top performer. He stopped 3 major scoring chances and also won the free kick which led to our equaliser. The final 30 minutes was probably the best / most rigid we have looked all season at the back.
10. Final Verdict – Overall a point was a decent outcome given the red card and our general passing not being up to scratch. The worry is that we have a very decent first eleven but with a few injuries to key players we become more workmanlike lacking the swagger previously shown this season. QPR are a basic side but passed the ball better than us even at 11-11.