QPR face final test against Crystal Palace before commencing Championship campaign


Queens Park Rangers will face Premier League outfit Crystal Palace in their final game of pre-season this summer.

With the EFL season set to kick-off next Saturday, Rangers will be making their final preparations for the new campaign in the hopes of building upon their 11th placed finish last term. They teased the prospect of promotion from the Championship for the first time since 2014, but soon found themselves slipping down the standings and finishing nine points behind the final play-off spot.

Michael Beale, who was previously the assistant manager to Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, has now taken the reigns at the club and replaced Mark Warburton.

Saturday’s fixture against the Eagles at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium will be the final outing of their pre-season schedule, and the Premier League side will surely provide a strong test for them as they head towards matchday one of the new season.

QPR have so far performed well over the summer. They kicked off their pre-season with a 2-0 win against non-league side Uxbridge, match that was held behind closed doors. Their following match ended in a 3-3 draw away at Crawley Town, despite Beale’s side going three goals up.

However they were soon back to winning ways on their travels to Germany, picking up a 4-0 win against FSV Zwickau. A 1-1 draw against Hallescher FC was next before an 8-2 battering of Wealdstone upon their return to the UK, in which Lyndon Dykes netted a hat-trick.

Off the pitch, the Hoops have been active in the transfer market. Centre-back Jake Clarke-Slater made the move from Chelsea, as well as left-back Kenneth Paal from PEC Zwolle, both of which were free transfers. Tyler Roberts has also joined, signing from Leeds United on loan for the upcoming season.

Another top half finish is a fair expectation for QPR, although their progression is arguably unpredictable given the fact that Beale is entering his first job as a manager. Andre Gray’s 10 goals last season were the most out of the squad, but his departure mans they will have to rely on the likes of Ilias Chair, Dykes and Chris Willock to find the back of the net.

Palace head into the friendly off the back of a mixed bag of results throughout their pre-season schedule thus far. A variety of their squad have been out in Australia on tour, losing to both Liverpool and Manchester United.

Some of their players have remained in the UK though and have shown more success in their results, including a frantic 5-4 win over rivals Millwall. Their most recent match saw Patrick Vieira’s side beat Gillingham 3-2 on the road which included two goals from Wilfried Zaha, who has been linked with a move to Roma this summer.

After a shaky start to the previous campaign, Palace soon found their rhythm and utilised their youthful talent to finish 12th in the Premier League.

Saturday will be a homecoming for one player in particular, with Eberechi Eze signing for the Eagles from QPR in the summer of 2020. His first season at Selhurst Park saw him amass 10 goal contributions in all competitions but his appearances fluctuated last season, and he was absent for the opening few weeks due to injury.

However, the likes of Michael Olise, Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell all impressed for the south London side, with the latter two receiving their first call-ups to the England national team as a result of their efforts. Vieira’s side will have to cope with the absence of Conor Gallagher this season though, with the 22-year-old returning to Chelsea this summer and looking likely to be a part of Thomas Tuchel’s squad going forward.

He made a strong impression on the side last season, but the club have done well to find his replacement in the market. Palace recently signed defensive midfielder Cheick Doucoure from Ligue 1 side Lens for around £19 million, with the Mali international featuring 37 times for his former club last term.

They have also brought in goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and right-winger Malcolm Ebiowei on free transfers, with their additions providing experience and youth respectively.

Palace’s season does not start for another two weeks when they host the Premier League curtain raiser against Arsenal, whereas QPR will have just one week to prepare for their opening fixture.

Each side will be provided with a tough test in the sunshine in west London, with fans now getting ready for another season of unpredictability up and down the football pyramid.

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