After a period of two months, the EFL Championship makes a return as the 2022-23 season is about to get underway. One of the Saturday afternoon kick-offs will see Blackburn Rovers welcome Queens Park Rangers (QPR) to Ewood Park. Both teams finished the previous season in the top half of the table. In fact, both were challenging for promotion at one point before they ran out of steam towards the end of the season. The main aim for Rovers and Rangers will be to sustain any promotion challenge this season.
Blackburn Rovers finished the 2021-22 EFL Championship campaign in 8th place on the points table with 69 points. They had a record of 19 wins, 12 draws and 15 losses with a goal difference of +9. The bulk of the goals came from the Chilean striker, Ben Brereton Diaz, as he scored 22 goals in the season. Sam Gallagher also provided decent support with nine goals. One positive aspect that the Rovers enjoyed was being a successful dribbling team as they completed 672 dribbles, placing them third behind Nottingham Forest and Fulham.
Last season, Joe Rothwell was the most successful threat creator for Blackburn Rovers. He also had the most assists of any man in the squad. However, he left the club after his contract expired and moved on to Bournemouth ahead of the start of the season. His threat mostly came from set-pieces. From open play, John Buckley generated the most threat. Most of the threats created by the team came from the right wing.
QPR ended last season in 11th place despite challenging for a promotion spot at one point. Their slump from February to April cost them a chance to fight for a spot in the playoffs. They ended up with 66 points and a record of 19 wins, nine draws and 18 losses, and a goal difference of +1. Their xG and xA per 90 were good enough only for lower than the 60th percentile. Their creativity ranking was also average, with only 2.34 key passes per 90 and 3.36 smart passes per 90.
QPR’s leading goalscorer last season was Andre Gray with 10 goals. In second and third place were Ilias Chair and Lyndon Dykes, respectively. The team took 525 shots and scored 58 goals, giving them a shot conversion rate of 9.05 shots per goal scored.
Both teams will be looking to get their season off to a good start. While Blackburn Rovers have kept hold of Ben Brereton Diaz till now, his contract expires in 12 months’ time, and they will have to decide whether a new contract is to be offered, or most likely, what price he would fetch in the transfer market.