Watkins can help lead Brentford to vital victory at QPR
Bees can maintain derby buzz
Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Main Event & Football, 7.45pm Monday
QPR lost 4-1 at home to Brentford in a League Cup second-round tie in August, prompting criticism of manager Ian Holloway, who had made ten changes from the previous game.
Holloway is desperate to make amends but his team are low on confidence after three successive defeats and short on numbers, especially in defence.
Injuries have ruled out six defenders – Joel Lynch, Darnell Furlong, Nedum Onouha, Grant Hall, James Perch and Steven Caulker – so Holloway will have to get creative with his team selection.
Winger Pavel Wszolek, midfielder Jordan Cousins (also an injury doubt) and attacker Jamie Mackie have been mentioned as possible emergency defenders and a makeshift QPR rearguard may struggle to cope against a Brentford side intending to challenge for a playoff place.
The Bees had a slow start to the season – failing to win in eight league games – and seemed to be struggling to adjust after losing defenders Harlee Dean and Maxime Colin plus creative midfielder Jota in September to second-tier rivals Birmingham.
But many of their performances had been decent and positive results have followed since mid-September with Dean Smith's side losing one of 11 league games.
Brentford drew 1-1 at home to Burton last Tuesday, prompting criticism from Smith, who described the performance as their poorest of the season.
They were frustrated by the defensive-minded Brewers, who sat deep and played for a point, but may get more room to play at Loftus Road.
QPR's default strategy in home games is to play high-energy, attacking football. It has often worked well for them and has delivered eye-catching victories over highfliers Wolves (2-1) and Sheffield United (2-1).
However, they gave up a lot of chances in last Saturday's 2-1 loss at home to Aston Villa – losing the shot count 26 to 14 – and an offensive approach could play into the hands of Brentford, who have the pace and precision to exploit them on the counter-attack.
Brentford attackers Ollie Watkins, Romaine Sawyers and Neal Maupay all like to run in behind and have played key roles in the Bees' charge up the table.
Watkins – a summer signing from Exeter – is the classiest of the trio and is full of confidence after scoring five times in the last ten games.
He takes Brentford's penalties and looks value to score the first goal.
2pts 7-5 Betfair, Betway, Hills
O Watkins first goalscorer
1pt 7-1 bet365
Massimo Luongo has recovered from illness but Joel Lynch, Darnell Furlong, Nedum Onouha, Grant Hall, James Perch and Steven Caulker are out. Jordan Cousins (knee) is a doubt.
Henrik Dalsgaard (heel) and long-term absentee Alan Judge (broken leg) are sidelined.
Brentford have lost one of their last 11 matches.
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