After a short hiatus due to the international break, the Sky Bet Championship returns this weekend and there is a West London derby to look forward to as Fulham make the short trip to face Queens Park Rangers.
📅 Match details
Kick off at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium is 15:00 on Saturday 2 April as Play-Off chasers QPR take on top-of-the-table Fulham.
Referee Gavin Ward will be joined by assistant officials Bhupinder Gill and Rob Smith, along with fourth official Carl Boyeson.
👔 At the helm
It’s Mark versus Marco in the dugouts as Mark Warburton takes charge of QPR and Marco Silva oversees the Cottagers.
Warburton’s first managerial role came at Brentford in 2013, guiding the Bees straight to automatic promotion out of League One that season and into the Championship Play-Offs the subsequent season before leaving the Club at the end of 2014/15.
After spells at Scottish giants Rangers and fellow Championship side Nottingham Forest, Warburton was appointed as QPR manager in May 2019. Following a ninth-place finish last season, Warburton will be hoping his Hoops side will take the next step and finish in the Play-Off spots this time around.
At 44-years-of-age, his opposite number Silva is still relatively young in terms of management, however, that doesn’t mean he is lacking in experience. After a period of managing Clubs in his native Portugal and one season at Greek side Olympiacos, Silva moved to England in 2017 and has had spells at Hull City, Watford and Everton before taking on his first job in the EFL with newly relegated Fulham at the start of the 2021/22 season.
With Fulham currently sat comfortably at the summit of Championship standings, Silva may be capable of taking Fulham back up to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
🔑 Key men
A rock at the back as well as chipping in with the occasional goal, Rob Dickie has been crucial for QPR since joining from Oxford United last season.
In his first season in the Championship, Dickie picked up QPR’s Supporters’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards - as well as their Goal of the Season award. This exceptional form has continued into the current campaign, with Dickie having played a part in all but two of the Hoops’ fixtures so far this term and will be hoping to hold back Fulham’s strong attacking threat.
Serbian forward Aleksandar Mitrović joined initially joined Fulham on loan from Newcastle United on January deadline day in 2018 before signing permanently the following summer and since the Cottagers returned to the Championship, he has proved simply unstoppable.
After scoring his 32nd and 33rd goals of the season back in February against Peterborough United, Mitrović broke the record of most Championship goals scored in a single season, since then he has added another three to that tally. With nine still to play, will be hoping to see those numbers keep increasing.
📈 Form guide
Despite siting in ninth position and only two points off the Play-Off places, QPR’s form has taken a dip lately. With only two wins in their last 10 - their last coming in mid March away at Luton Town - and a busy April coming up, the R’s will be hoping a victory at home to rivals Fulham can kickstart a rejuvenation in form.
Eight points clear at the top of the table, Fulham are flying high and have proved a tough team to crack. However, last time out, Fulham did taste defeat on the road away to West Bromwich Albion. Marco Silva will be desperate for a victory in this West London derby to not only claim the bragging rights but to further cement their position at the top of the Championship tree.
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