Cifuentes initially made a solid start to life as Queens Park Rangers boss as his new side accumulated 12 points from his first seven games in charge. However, the Spaniard has since endured a five-game winless run, including four defeats.
After earning a respectable point at promotion-chasing Ipswich Town in their final game of 2023, the Hoops kick-started the New Year with a 2-1 home defeat to Cardiff City on Monday. Shortly after half time, Paul Smyth cancelled out an early opener from Dimitrios Goutas, but the Bluebirds had the last laugh as Perry Ng netted what proved to be the winning strike in the 74th minute.
QPR remain embroiled in a relegation dogfight as they sit 23rd in the Championship standings, just three points off the foot of the table and four points adrift of safety, but they now have three successive home fixtures to look forward to later this month as well as Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Bournemouth.
Success in the FA Cup has been hard to come by for QPR, who have lost more third-round ties (50) than any other club in the current format of the competition (since 1925-26), including their most recent defeat at this stage against League One side Fleetwood Town last season.
QPR have also won just one of their last 12 FA Cup meetings with Premier League opposition, beating West Bromwich Albion in 2012-13, which does not bode well ahead of facing an in-form Bournemouth outfit.
Bournemouth’s excellent seven-game unbeaten run in the Premier Legue, including six victories, came to an end on New Year’s Eve when they suffered a 3-1 defeat away against Tottenham Hotspur.Alex Scott scored his first
goal for the club six minutes from time, but it was only a consolation strike as earlier goals from Spurs trio Pape Matar Sarr, Son Heung-min and Richarlison condemned the Cherries to their first defeat since November 4.
Andoni Iraola’s side missed the chance to move level on points with 10th-placed Chelsea, but they remain 12th in the Premier League table and crucially sit 10 points clear of the relegation zone heading into the second half of the campaign.
Before welcoming leaders Liverpool to the Vitality Stadium in their next top-flight match in just over two weeks’ time, Bournemouth shift their focus to the FA Cup and will endeavour to avoid a second successive third-round elimination against Championship opposition after losing 4-2 at home to Burnley last season.
The Cherries have in fact lost their last two FA Cup games to lower-league opposition – also losing 1-0 at home to non-league Boreham Wood in February 2022 – but they did beat QPR both home and away by an aggregate score of 3-1 when they last faced the London-based club as a second-tier side in 2021