Albion’s hopes fading as struggling Rangers visit the Hawthorns

West Bromwich Albion v Queen’s Park Rangers; The Hawthorns, Saturday 10th April 2023, 3pm

Carlos Corberán suggested before Friday’s game that the club’s financial problems would not be a distraction to the players – maybe it would have been helpful if that had taken some note. The performance at the New York Stadium on Friday suggested that the players didn’t care that failure to win promotion this season could spell financial ruin for the club. For me, it was a return to the bad days under Steve Bruce – when push comes to shove, this group of players have been found wanting far too often.

Corberán was as scathing as we have seen him in his criticism of his players after Friday’s match and he will undoubtedly be demanding a reaction against QPR on Monday. With Watford, Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City and Sunderland also failing to win on Friday, Albion retain a slim hope of making the top six, but whether this squad can find the mental strength to put together a run of results when the pressure is on remains the biggest doubt.

It his a squad that has been decimated by injury in recent weeks with, on Friday, Adam Reach being added to the list of players unlikely to play again this season. It certainly hasn’t helped Corberán’s cause and there are evident deficiencies in the squad even when fully fit, but application and commitment is the least the fans demand and that was absent on Friday. The lack of leadership on the field is a real problem and, while there are one or two strong characters in the squad, when they aren’t on the field and things go badly, the team invariaby falls apart.

It is hoped that Okay, one of those stronger characters, will be available for selection on Monday having sat out the trip to Rotherham with an ankle injury – he was much missed on Friday as neither Chalobah nor Gardner-Hickman was able to offer the control in the centre of the park that the Turk usually provides.

Corberán opted to play both Dike and Thomas-Asante from the start on Friday for the first time. Given the overall malaise of the team, it’s difficult to know whether it was a tactic that is worth pursuing. With the number of wide players available reducing once again, the only left-sided options are Grant and Albrighton assuming Wallace stays left, although BTA himself can play as a wide forward and spent some time in that position on Friday. With BTA being one play who has consistently given his all and Dike definitely having grown into the season, I would be happy to see the two of them given another start on Monday.

The performance of the defence against a surprisingly potent Jordan Hugill on Friday will undoubtedly give the Spaniard pause for thought when he selects his team on Monday. The fit-again Kyle Bartley may well be in line for a recall and, being one of those cheerleaders that the team lacks, it might not be a bad choice. Neither Pieters nor Ajayi covered themselves in glory at Rotherham but, based on the overall consistency of his performances across the season, the Dutchman should keep his place.

In theory, there are few opponents that Albion would prefer to face than QPR, although the same could have been said about Rotherham United. The R’s have won just two of their last twenty-four league games since late October, with the only points they have picked up in the last ten matches coming courtesy of a 1-0 win over Watford last month. On the road, they are one of the few teams on a worse run of form than the Baggies having not won in their last eight away games and losing their last four including their last three against fellow strugglers Rotherham United, Wigan Athletic and Blackpool.

Rangers’ demise can largely be traced back to the departure of Michael Beale who took over at the other Rangers, the one in Glasgow, in late November, although they had only picked up one point in his last five games in charge dropping from second in the table to seventh. On the return to football after the World Cup, their poor form continued with new boss, former Villa coach Neil Critchley, managing just one win before he himself was replaced in February. Former R’s player, Gareth Ainsworth, was hailed as the returning hero when he took over after a successful eight years at Wycombe Wanderers, but he is yet to spark a recovery, guiding them to just one win in his seven games in charge as the club seems to be slipping inexorably towards the bottom three. They sit fourth bottom, just one point above Reading who are there only because of a six-point deduction for financial irregularities.

It’s difficult to know what to expect from Albion in this game. If they can score an early goal, it could spark a comfortable victory that might give them some confidence to take into the remainder of the season, but I would not be surprised to see another nervous display that could bring to an end both the Baggies’ excellent home form and the R’s poor away run.

Let’s hope it’s the former and maybe the Baggies can somehow keep their play-off hopes alive. Maybe.


Albion have lost just one of their last seven meetings with QPR, winning five of those in a run that started with the 7-1 victory at the Hawthorns in August 2018 under Darren Moore. Matt Phillips (2), Kieran Gibbs, Jay Rodriguez (2 pens), Dwight Gayle and Hal Robson-Kanu all scored in a remarkable game that was 1-1 at half time.

Rangers’ only victory in that spell was a 1-0 win at Loftus Road in January 2022 that was another nail in Valérien Ismaël’s coffin that would be sealed a few weeks later.

Their last victory at the Hawthorns was in the Premier League in April 2015 when Chris Ramsay had taken over at Loftus Road following the sacking of Harry Redknapp. It had hardly been a successful period up to that point and QPR made the trip to the Black Country in 19th place in the table on a run of five successive defeats. The hosts were also in the early stages of a new Head Coach’s tenure, but Tony Pulis had managed to pull the Baggies away from the danger zone but, on 33 points, they were by no means safe. Nonetheless, I don’t think anyone expected the visitors to take a 3-0 half time lead thanks to goals from Eduardo Vargas, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora. Victor Anichebe reduced the arrears before the hour mark before Youssouf Mulumbu replaced Craig Gardner and then got himself sent off 12 minutes later. Joey Barton’s 95th minute goal made the final score 4-1. It proved to be a mere blip for both sides as Rangers finished bottom and Albion ended the campaign in a respectable 13th place.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L W W D D L
Queen’s Park Rangers L W L L L L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

5 Nov 2022 – League Championship
Queen’s Park Rangers 0
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Bartley)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

24 Sep 2021 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Grant (2))
Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (Gray)

Albion’s Record against Queen’s Park Rangers

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 45 21 10 14 74 53   22 11 7 4 45 27
FA Cup 4 1 1 2 4 5   2 1 0 1 3 3
League Cup 2 1 0 1 4 4   1 1 0 0 2 1
Total 51 23 11 17 82 62   25 13 7 5 50 31

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