Nineteenth placed Queen Park Rangers visit the Hawthorns this coming Easter Saturday looking for only their second away win of the season. That win at Sunderland remains the only game they haven’t lost away from Loftus Road in the league this season, their only points from their last 10 Premier League fixtures and their only league win since they beat Albion at Loftus Road just before Christmas.
Four points from safety and games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City still to come this season, most pundits have written Rangers off and Albion will be looking to roll that stone further over their tomb this weekend. They have scored in each of their last six games, but they lost five of those which is indicative of where their problems lie. They may find it tough to get past what has become a very mean Albion defence, particularly at the Hawthorns, and their propensity to concede coupled with Albion’s two in-form strikers should make it another difficult afternoon for the Hoops.
For Albion, this fixture and the subsequent home game against bottom-placed Leicester City represent a fantastic opportunity to secure another season in the Premier League. That will put Albion on 39 points, which would surely be enough, although current form suggests that three of the teams below Albion exceding even their current 33 point tally is unlikely.
With Rangers spending much of the first half century of their life in the third tier of English football, this fixture didn’t have much of a history prior to a fateful day in 1967, and this match will only be the 44th meeting between the clubs.
The only league meetings prior to that date were in season 1948-49 when the Rs had been promoted to Division Two and Albion were still fighting for promotion back to the top flight having been relegated just before World War II. The first match was at Loftus Road in November 1948 which the Baggies won 2-0 thanks to goals from Dave Walsh and Frank Hodgetts. The return fixture at the Hawthorns finished in a 1-1 draw.
Albion won promotion that season, and the next meeting between the clubs was the famous, or should I say infamous, League Cup Final in 1967 (the first to be held at Wembley). QPR, back in the Third Division (although they were promoted as champions at the end of the season), found themselves 2-0 down to the League Cup holders (Albion having beaten West Ham in a two-legged final the previous season) thanks to a brace from their former player, Clive ‘Chippy’ Clarke. In a remarkable turnaround inspired by Rodney Marsh, Rangers scored three times in the second half through Marsh himself, Roger Morgan and the aptly-named Mark Lazarus to produce one of the biggest shocks in League Cup history.
There was more cup heartache for the Baggies 15 years later in the 1982 FA Cup Semi-Final at Highbury when an Ally Robertson clearance deflected into the net off Clive Allen’s knee to send Rangers to Wembley.
But one of the best memories of more recent years came at Loftus Road in 2008 when Albion clinched the Football League Championship trophy with a 2-0 win thanks to a goal from Kim Do-Heon and a wonderful free kick from Chris Brunt (it may well be the last time he scored direct from a free kick, let me know if you can remember another one!).
Albion’s best win over Rangers came at the Hawthorns earlier that season. Two from Kevin Phillips plus one each from Ishmael Miller, Robert Koren and Jonathan Greening lifted Albion into second place in the table. The West London club have won at the Hawthorns in the league on three occasions, the last one being in 1999 when Stuart Wardley got the only goal of the game, although they did win an FA Cup Third Round Replay at the Shrine last season with Jay Bothroyd scoring the winner.
Reports suggest that the withdrawl of Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye from their respective international squads has paid off with both now expected to be available for Saturday’s game. Callum McMananman remains a doubt and Ben Foster is sidelined for several months. Craig Dawson will serve his ban for the mistaken-identity sending off at Manchester City
For Rangers, Alejandro Faurlín, Leroy Fer and Richard Dunne remain sidelined with knee injuries and young defender, Darnell Furlong, the son of former Hoops striker Paul Furlong and promoted to the first team by Chris Ramsey in February, is a doubt.
With Albion’s excellent home form under Tony Pulis and QPR’s awful recent record, this should be a straightforward win for the Baggies. It is rarely that simple, but Pulis is not one to allow complacency to creep in and I’m expecting a home win and that magical 40-point line will be within reach.
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All competitions; most recent game on the right
20 Dec 2014 – Premier League
Queen’s Park Rangers 3 (Austin (3, 1 pen))
West Brom 2 (Lescott, Varela)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
15 Jan 2013 – FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
West Brom 0
Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (Bothroyd)
26 Dec 2012 – Premier League
Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (Cissé)
West Brom 2 (Brunt, Green (o.g.))
Last win at the Hawthorns
6 Oct 2012 – Premier League
West Brom 3 (Morrison, Gera, Mulumbu)
Queen’s Park Rangers 2 (Taarabt, Granero)
Albion’s Record against Queen’s Park Rangers
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