Right, this is it. The final break in play of the season is over and we’re about to be thrown in at the deep end with a run of four crucial games in just over a week.
The first of these is against West Brom at Loftus Road on Saturday and it couldn’t really be a much tougher ask. Yes the Baggies are having a bit of a dip in form but they’ve got quality all across the park and will bring the thick end of 3000 fans to Loftus Road as they prepare for a final push towards the Premiership.
Luton travel to Burnley and Hull host Southend elsewhere this weekend so it’s sure to be a big day in an increasingly tight relegation battle.
QPR manager John Gregory ‘West Brom is our biggest match of the season, without any doubt.
‘A win against West Brom and then another versus Preston will certainly go a long way to securing our future in this division.
‘It’s absolutely massive for us, but if we get the support we’ve had over the last few weeks – both at Loftus Road and on our travels – it will have a huge influence on the side.
‘A win against West Brom and then another on Tuesday versus Preston will certainly go a long way to securing our future in this division.
‘We’ll be using this short break to take one last deep breath before we march on to the final countdown.
‘I’d have preferred a fixture this weekend, but having said that, at least the break will give one or two players the opportunity to recover from their respective injuries.’
West Brom assistant manager Mark Venus ‘All the footballers here are disappointed about the way results have gone recently but as management staff, all we can ask is the players continue to give us everything.
‘We have produced some very good performances at times this season and shown we can play with a bit of freedom.
‘QPR will definitely be up for it, but I would like to see us play with that freedom when we go there.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
QPR have Dexter Blackstock and Martin Rowlands back in contention. They both missed the away win at Leicester a fortnight ago. Gregory also has new loan signing Rohan Ricketts available after he made a goal scoring start to his QPR career in the reserves’ 8-2 defeat at Brighton during the week.
Nygaard, Furlong and Blackstock will rotate between each other over the course of the next four games, probably starting with the former pair who were so impressive at the Walkers Stadium.
Player to watch: Adam Bolder
West Brom declared at three goals at The Hawthorns earlier this season with Rehman and Stewart at the back. Rehman has of course now been replaced by Danny Cullip and he and Stewart will have to contain Kamara, Phillips, Ellington and the rest.
If they can do that successfully then the key battle will be in the midfield. Newly crowned Football League Player of the Year Jason Koumas will be pulling the strings from the middle of the Baggies’ midfield and it will be Adam Bolder’s job to try and suppress his influence on the game.
Without doubt his biggest game for the club so far.
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
Curtis Davies has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. Sam Sodje and Neil Clement will play at the heart of the defence – the latter on the anniversary of his Father’s death. Dave was one of the all time QPR greats of course and it’s sure to be an emotional day for all concerned.
John Hartson has a knee injury so Phillips and Ellington will compete to partner Kamara in attack.
Player to watch: Jason Koumas
As earlier stated, if Cullip and Stewart can somehow contain West Brom’s impressive strike force then the key man QPR have to watch is Jason Koumas. The former Tranmere midfielder looked set for the exit door at The Hawthorns when he fell out with previous manager Bryan Robson – shrewd move sending your best player out on loan after a row, what a manager that guy is.
He was fairly awesome on loan at Cardiff last season and the two clubs engaged in a public spat over the summer as they attempted to tie down a permanent transfer. He ended up staying and a terrific season for him resulted in the 442 Magazine Award for the Championship’s best player going his way last month.
The last two recipients of that award, Stephen Sidwell and Phil Jagielka, have gone on to the Premiership since. Koumas, who scored for Wales against San Marino in the week, will be hoping for more of the same.
Match Facts & Stats
Last six matches
Leicester 1 QPR 3
Derby 1 QPR 1
QPR 1 Sheff Wed 1
Ipswich 2 QPR 1
QPR 1 Plymouth 1
Leeds 0 QPR 0
West Brom 1 Birmingham 1
West Brom 2 Palace 3
Wolves 1 West Brom 0
West Brom 1 Sunderland 2
West Brom 1 Middlesbrough 1
Leicester 1 West Brom 1
Head to Head
QPR wins – 12
Draws – 7
WBA wins – 12
West Brom 3 QPR 3
(Stewart, Gallen, Nygaard)
The referee this weekend is Paul Armstrong who refereed our home game with Wolves last season and last took charge of West Brom in 2002 at Millwall. He has booked 65 and sent three off in 25 matches this season.
West Brom are struggling for wins, QPR seem to draw a lot, especially at home. I can’t see QPR winning this one but a draw seems likely, it’s a big game for both teams. I’ll say 1-1.
03/04/07 QPR v Preston
07/04/07 West Brom v Stoke City