WHAT a difference a few days make in football, as West London is hit with a wave of optimism with West Bromwich Albion coming to town.
The last time Albion visited W12 Rangers were watching them lift the Championship trophy aloft, with optimism around Loftus Road indicating that the following year could be their year.
As it happens the last couple of years have seen the R’s drift backwards in two disappointing campaigns, as Albion seek to bounce back after relegation from the top flight.
Neil Warnock will take charge of his first QPR game in what is sure to be an atmosphere to befit the new boss – passion, enthusiasm and lots of noise at Loftus Road.
Warnock’s infectious personality and promotion credentials have seen Rangers chase him for quite some time, while Albion can look to the relatively inexperienced Roberto Di Matteo as their guiding light.
Despite not appearing as imperious as they did under Tony Mowbray, the Baggies are still hot on the tail of leaders Newcastle United as the Championship season starts to wind to a conclusion.
This weekend will undoubtedly set an important marker in the sides’ respective aspirations as Rangers and Albion clash at Loftus Road.
Middlesbrough 2 (Robson 39pen, 45pen)
Team: Carl Ikeme, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gork?s, Matt Hill (Gary Borrowdale 54), Jay Simpson, Ákos Buzsáky, Mikele Leigertwood, Alejandro Faurlín (Adel Taarabt 69), Lee Cook, Antonio German (Marcus Bent 54)
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Brunt 67, 77, Cox 83)
Derby County 1 (Porter 49)
Team: Scott Carson, Marek Cech, Gabriel Tamaş, Jonas Olsson, Abdoulaye Méïté, Jerome Thomas, Ben Watson (Youssouf Mulumbu 81), Chris Brunt, Graham Dorrans, Robert Koren (James Morrison 59), Luke Moore (Simon Cox 59)
QPR Team News:
With new managers it’s never easy to tell what kind of selection he will deploy, but at Palace he did put faith in youth and for some R’s players this may be no different.
Carl Ikeme should continue ahead of Radek Černý with Kaspars Gork?s, Damion Stewart, Matt Hill and Peter Ramage destined to be the back four – unless Gary Borrowdale can displace Hill.
Harford’s final formation was a 4-5-1, and in likeliness Warnock will look slightly more attacking with Ákos Buzsáky and Lee Cook starting on the flanks.
Nigel Quashie could be set to come back from the wilderness if Warnock wants to add extra grit to the midfield, he would partner skipper Mikele Leigertwood, but Alejandro Faurlín will be pushing to keep his place.
Antonio German will also look to keep his place after another spirited display, and Jay Simpson is destined to start upfront against his former club as the R’s top scorer.
Martin Rowlands (knee) and Gavin Mahon (knee) remain important casualties for QPR.
Possible line up:
Ramage – Gork?s – Stewart – Hill
Buzsáky – Leigertwood – Faurlín – Cook
German – Simpson
Player to watch: Jay Simpson
Jay Simpson will once again have a point to prove as he faces off against his former club this weekend – following an unsuccessful loan spell at the Hawthorns.
The Arsenal loanee has proven himself a worthy adversary in the Championship this season and is the R’s current top scorer.
His short spell at West Brom didn’t see him set the world alight, though he was played out of position on the right flank – not ideal for a goal-poacher.
This weekend could see him give a massive boost to Rangers’ survival hopes and put a sizeable dent in the Albion promotion charge.
To view his career profile Click Here >>>
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
Albion have been boosted by the return of several key players ahead of this weekend’s clash with an ex-R’s player set to continue in midfield.
England international Scott Carson will continue in goal behind central defensive stalwarts Jonas Olsson and Abdoulaye Méïté – Gianni Zuiverloon will compete with Gabriel Tamaş for the right back berth.
Marek Cech will compete with Joe Mattock for the left-back position, but Cech is likely to retain his spot with both Mattock and Zuiverloon left out of the squad against Derby.
Youssouf Mulumbu will have his work cut out displacing combative ex-R Ben Watson, while he should be partnered with Slovenian international Robert Koren, and Graham Dorrans depending on formation.
The Baggies have a plethora of wingers to select from with Chris Brunt and Jerome Thomas looking to retain their spots while Frank Nouble and the returning James Morrison are forced to wait on the sidelines.
Luke Moore started the game against Derby supported by the two wide-man, and the performance and result may well see the former Aston Villa front-man start solo once more – however he could be replaced by weekend scorer Simon Cox or even the returning Roman Bednar.
Tamaş – Méïté – Olsson – Cech
Dorrans – Watson
Brunt – Koren – Thomas
Player to watch: Chris Brunt
Chris Brunt is an undoubted talent in the championship and after scoring twice in the Baggies last game he was selected as VitalQPR’s One to Watch.
To view our profile of the player Click Here >>>
Match Facts & Stats
Queens Park Rangers: L L L W L
West Bromwich Albion: D D L L W
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 12
West Bromwich Albion: 15
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship – 14-12-2009
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Thomas 67, Cox 90)
Queens Park Rangers 2 (Olsson 56og, Gork?s 62)
Team: Radek Černý, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Mikele Leigertwood, Wayne Routledge, Patrick Agyemang (Alessandro Pellicori 84), Kaspars Gork?s, Ben Watson, Tom Williams, Jay Simpson (Fitz Hall 90), Adel Taarabt (Alejandro Faurlín 81).
QPR 3-1 West Bromwich Albion – 25-08-1985
West Bromwich Albion 0-1 QPR – 09-11-1985
Referee: Mr Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Assistants: Mr Nick Kinseley (Essex) & Mr Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)
Fourth Official:Mr Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)
Stuart Attwell will once again take charge at Loftus Road as West Brom come to W12 – an official not averse to controversy in recent seasons.
Promoted well above his station, Attwell became the youngest Select List official as hopes were pinned on him to be the next big thing in refereeing.
Unfortunately the Ghost Goal has blighted his early career, giving a goal for Reading against Watford when the ball crossed the goal-line – to one side of the target.
The calamity was spelt out when Mikele Leigertwood was sent off for QPR against Birmingham – sparking genuine confusion rather than anger, and his career continues to stifle.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
This will be one of Rangers’ toughest tests of the season as they prepare to face an Albion side with the best away record in the league.
New manager syndrome has had many opportunities to come to the fore recently, but this is a very different calibre of manager in Neil Warnock and the fight among the Rangers ranks will be evident.
The steel that Warnock should bring to the side will hopefully see them through against promotion candidates West Brom – but it remains to be seen whether the R’s can finally fulfil their potential.
Teams: QPR v Plymouth Argyle
Date: Tuesday March 9, 2010 – 8.00pm
Ground: Loftus Road, London