After a defensive masterclass secured victory at Villa Park, Darren Moore takes his team to Loftus Road on Tuesday evening with Albion looking to complete their second league double of the season.
After the Baggies put seven past Queen’s Park Rangers in August in their first home win of the season, Steve McLaren’s team found themselves bottom of the table without a point. However, after they lost at home to Bristol City the following Wednesday, the R’s went on an impressive run which saw them as high as 8th place as recently as the end of December.
Since they beat bottom club, Ipswich Town, on Boxing Day, however, Rangers have not won a league game including losing their last five in the Championship. They now find themselves in 18th place although their run in the FA Cup has left them with a couple of games in hand over the teams around them. That cup run has produced their only victories in 2019 over Leeds United and Portsmouth, but it came to an end with defeat at home to Watford on Saturday and, with the play-offs now out of reach, McLaren will be keen to ensure that they don’t get dragged into a relegation fight.
Albion have found things easier away from the Hawthorns in 2019. While they are still waiting for their first home win since the turn of the year, the Baggies have won all three of their league games on the road and are looking to make it eight wins from nine away league games in a run stretching back to early November.
Moore will have to do without Dwight Gayle as he completes his suspension, and potentially without Hal Robson-Kanu who may have aggravated his injury in his excellent 45 minutes at Villa Park.
That could lead to a first start for Jefferson Montero or, potentially, a switch of systems with Harper playing as an advanced midfielder behind Rodriguez and Murphy. Obviously, with the game coming so quickly after the win over Villa, and another massive game on Saturday to come, Moore will need to consider using his squad and there may be one or two surprises.
I certainly expect Stefan Johansen to start as he only got on for the last few minutes at Villa Park, and I’m sure the Fulham loanee will be eager to impress against the Cottagers’ local rivals.
This is Albion’s game in hand over two of the three clubs above them, and it will be a huge result if they can take all three points and move to within one point of Sheffield United ahead of the Blades’ visit to the Hawthorns on Saturday evening.
The two clubs in the English league commonly known by a TLA (three-letter acronym) have met on 45 previous occasions with WBA winning 19 and QPR 16. At Loftus Road, the West Londoners hold the advantage of nine wins to Albion’s seven with four matches being drawn.
In the last meeting in Shepherd’s Bush in December 2014, the hosts were 3-2 winners with Charlie Austin scoring a hat-trick while the Baggies’ goals were scored by Joleon Lescott and a certain Silvestre Manuel Gonçalves Varela. The Portuguese winger had moved to the Hawthorns on a season long loan from Porto the previous August but was already injured and did not make his league debut for Albion until early December. That strike against the R’s was his only goal for the Baggies in his nine appearances before Tony Pulis came in and allowed him to move to Parma in January.
Loftus Road, of course, was the scene of Albion’s most recent trophy presentation. They secured the Championship title with a 2-0 win against Rangers in May 2008 with Do-Heon Kim and Chris Brunt scoring the goals.
The Baggies have enjoyed their trips to Shepherd’s Bush on Boxing Day having won on both of their post-Christmas visits. In 2012, another Chris Brunt strike and an own goal from Rob Green saw Steve Clarke’s team win 2-1, while back in 1968, a goal each from Dennis Martin and Ronnie Rees and a brace from Ian Collard saw Alan Ashman’s Baggies record a 4-0 victory, their biggest at Loftus Road.
Rangers’ biggest home win over Albion is just 3-1, which they have managed twice. In August 1984, a Simon Stainrod double and another from Terry Fenwick secured the points with Steve Mackenzie grabbing a last minute consolation for the Baggies, while in the Championship match in March 2010, Chris Brunt was on the scoresheet again but QPR took the points with goals from Jay Simpson, Matthew Connolly and Ákos Buzsáky.
The first ever meeting between the sides was at Loftus Road in Division Two in November 1948. Jack Smith’s Baggies won 2-0 thanks to goals from Frank Hodgetts and Davy Walsh.
The two most famous meetings between the sides took place on neutral grounds and both were painful for Albion fans. In 1967, Division Three Rangers came back from 2-0 down at Wembley in the League Cup final to win 3-2, while in 1982, it was a knee-in from Clive Allen that decided the FA Cup semi-final between the sides at Highbury.
Albion to continue their fantastic away run and take all three points.
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All competitions; most recent game on the right
18 Aug 2018 – League Championship
West Brom 7 (Phillips (2), Gibbs, Rodriguez (2 pens), Gayle, Robson-Kanu)
Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (Lynch)
Last meeting at Queen’s Park Rangers
20 Dec 2014 – Premier League
Queen’s Park Rangers 3 (Austin (3, 1 pen))
West Brom 2 (Lescott, Varela)
Last win at Queen’s Park Rangers
26 Dec 2012 – Premier League
Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (Cissé)
West Brom 2 (Brunt, Green (o.g.))
Albion’s Record against Queen’s Park Rangers