QUEENS Park Rangers take on Brentford at Griffin Park on Saturday for this season’s final west London derby.
Rangers will be looking for some revenge over the Bees who outplayed the R’s at Loftus Road earlier on in the season and went on to win 2-0 thanks to goals from Josh Clarke and Romaine Sawyers.
Brentford and manager Dean Smith have since gone on to have a decent campaign. They’ve been in midtable for most of the year without ever seriously threatening to reach the play-offs but equally never looking in trouble. When you consider that their star striker Scott Hogan was sold to Aston Villa in January it’s fair to say most people at Griffin Park will take encouragement from their performances this season.
After gaining promotion to the Championship in 2014, Brentford went and surprised everyone by reaching the play-offs the following season only to be defeated in the semi-finals by Middlesbrough. They finished ninth last campaign and currently sit in 11th which suggests that the club is in a very stable position.
Smith will be hoping to carry on their good run of form. The former Walsall manager, who joined Brentford back in November 2015 has seen his side pick up 13 out of a possible 18 points in a run which has seen them gain victories over Leeds United and Derby County.
Their strength lies in attack – scoring 70 league goals this campaign with only four teams bettering that record. Lasse Vibe, Scott Hogan and Jota have all reached double figures in terms of league goals which is in contrast to Rangers who have so far only seen Idrissa Sylla reach this feat.
Both Ian Holloway and Marc Bircham have stated that QPR need one more victory to guarantee Rangers’ status in the division. Having been in such a comfortable position and playing some excellent football before the international break it’s somewhat disappointing to have to be looking over our shoulders but such is the competitiveness of this league.
In truth the Hoops haven’t quite got the rub of the green in recent weeks, losing the last five games by just the one goal. However, Rangers are letting in soft goals, often early on in matches, a bad habit in which Marc Bircham stated they need to get rid of.
Jake Bidwell will return to his old club following last summer’s move to QPR but insists he is only focused on bringing the three points back to Loftus Road.
QPR: Captain Nedum Onuoha available after head injury whilst defender Grant Hall is out with tendonitis. Midfielder Jordan Cousins remains sidelined for the remainder of the season following a quad injury.
Brentford: Maxime Colin is fit and available for selection. Andreas Bjelland has had a clear week and is in the squad. Alan McCormack will be out but Nico Yennaris is fit. Josh McEachran is back on the grass but the game comes too early for him.
Predicted line up: Bentley, Clarke, Egan, Dean, Henry, Woods, Kerschbaumer, Jota, Sawyers, Jozefzoon, Vibe
Key Player: Jota – A product of the Celta Viga loan system, on his day Jota is an exciting midfielder with a keen eye for goal.
PRE MATCH TALK
Marc Bircham: "They (the players) know what it means, believe me they know. They experienced the importance of a west London derby against Fulham and know how important it is. Not only that but we need one more win to make sure we are playing in this league next year – it’s a massive game.”
Dean Smith: “In this league they are all big games but to supporters the West London derbies are bigger than most so it will be an exciting time. We have the potential to do the double over QPR which would be very good for our supporters. On current form we are favourite. On their day anyone in the Championship can perform, we have to make sure that we perform ourselves.”
QPR win: 11/4
QPR first goal scorer: Idrissa Sylla 6/1
Brentford first goal scorer: Jota 7/2
LAST TIME OUT
QPR 0-2 Brentford - Championship, Friday 28th October 2016
Brentford goal-scorers: Josh Clarke, Romaine Sawyers
HEAD TO HEAD
(In all competitions)
QPR wins: 22
Brentford wins: 23
Referee: James Adcock
Assistant Referees: Adam Matthews and Darren Blunden
Fourth official: Tim Robinson
Largely dry with light winds and warm some sunshine over the weekend but with some chilly nights expected. 12% chance of rain.
SATURDAY’S OTHER LEAGUE FIXTURES
All matches 3pm kick-offs unless otherwise stated
Bristol City v Barnsley
Burton Albion v Leeds United
Huddersfield Town v Fulham
Nottingham Forest v Reading
Rotherham United v Ipswich Town
Sheffield Wednesday v Derby County
Wigan Athletic v Cardiff City
Wolves v Blackburn Rovers