QPR arrive for their last-ever game at Griffin Park, barring a cup tie or play-offs, having gone goal crazy so far in 2020, as they have found the net 11 times in two games since the start of the year.
There was certainly no New Year’s Day hangover when they faced Cardiff and hammered them 6-1 – and then four days later beat their south Wales rivals Swansea 5-1 in the FA Cup third round.
In fact, Rangers are the second-highest scorers in the Championship this season – their total of 44 goals only bettered by West Brom with 48.
However, the reason the are only 15th in the table despite that achievement is their defensive record, which is the third worst in the division, behind Barnsley (49) and Luton (56).
Rangers’ manager is no stranger to TW8 – Mark Warburton took over the club in the close season.
His side have won five, drawn one and lost six of their away games, while at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium they have won five, drawn four and lost five.
Former Bees defender Yoann Barbet moved to W12 in the summer, but after becoming a regular in the side he picked up an injury which forced him to miss our visit in October. He has not played since and will again be missing on Saturday.
This is QPR’s 13th season out of the past 16 at this level, with the other three in the Premier League, of which they were one of the founder members in 1992.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Mark Warburton makes his second and final return to Griffin Park on Saturday – this time as manager of QPR.
Warbs’ first return visit came at the start of the 2017/18 season when he was in charge of Nottingham Forest and came away with a 4-3 win.
He took charge of the Bees midway through the 2013/14 season, having previously been our sporting director, after Uwe Rosler left to join Wigan. He led us to promotion to the Championship at the end of the season.
In our first season back in the second tier since 1992/93 he led us to the play-offs after a fifth-place finish, this despite learning in February that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. As usual we failed to win promotion through the end-of-season lottery – losing 5-1 on aggregate to Middlesbrough in the semi-finals.
After leaving Brentford, he was appointed manager of Rangers later that summer and led them back into the Scottish top flight (Premiership) at the first time of asking.
He parted company with the club in February 2017 and the following month took over at Forest. However, he was sacked that New Year’s Eve and was out of the game until taking the QPR job in May last year.
After a career playing in non-league football, Warbs spent some time working in Watford’s academy, but also had a career outside football as a City trader.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
There have been nine meetings between the sides in the Championship since we won promotion in 2014 – as well as one in the Carabao Cup – with seven Brentford wins (including the cup victory), two victories for the Rs and one draw.
QPR joined us in the second tier in 2015, having been relegated from the Premier League, and the matches in 2015/16 both went to the home team – 1-0 to Brentford at Griffin Park and 3-0 to Rangers at Loftus Road.
We did the double the following campaign with a 2-0 win in W12 followed by a 3-1 victory in the return.
We met three times the following season – once in the Carabao Cup and twice in the league.
We romped to a 4-1 win in the cup game in August to reach the third round for the first time in seven years.
We took the lead with an early own goal by Ariel Borysiuk, John Egan quickly headed our second and Neal Maupay made it three before Darnell Furlong replied just on half-time. Josh Clarke secured our biggest-ever win at Loftus Road late on.
The league game, shown live on a Monday night in November for Sky, was one of the most painful moments of the season, with two points dropped in the last 90 seconds of injury-time.
Comfortably leading 2-0 going into stoppage-time thanks to two second half goals by Lasse Vibe, the points looked to be ours. But after 92-and-a-half minutes, Matt Smith pulled one back and there was still time for Luke Freeman to grab a dramatic equaliser as it finished 2-2.
We gained some revenge in the home game – our penultimate Griffin Park match of the season – as we won 2-1.
Sergi Canos gave us an early lead but Ollie Watkins was denied a chance to double the lead when Matt Ingram saved his penalty, and then Idrissa Sylla equalised in first-half stoppage-time.
Florian Jozefzoon proved to be the Bees’ hero when he hit the winner midway through the second half to extend our unbeaten run to seven matches and move us to within one point of the play-off places.
QPR took the first honours last season, hitting back from a goal down to beat us 3-2 at Loftus Road in November.
Neal Maupay put us ahead in the 22nd minute, before being carried off injured just before half-time. Rangers turned the game round with three goals in 11 early second-half minutes through Massimo Luongo, Joel Lynch and Nakhi Wells. Henrik Dalsgaard pulled one back for us but it was not enough to rescue a point.
But we continued our excellent recent Griffin Park record against Rangers in the return as we wrapped up a 3-0 win.
Neal Maupay put us ahead with an early second-half penalty, before he set up Said Benrahma for the second. Sergi Canos put the shine on the result with the third deep into stoppage-time to condemn QPR to their eighth defeat in nine games.
In this season’s first meeting, again a televised Sky Monday night match, the Bees once again scored three times to take the points against QPR in a 3-1 victory.
Ollie Watkins headed in Bryan Mbeumo’s cross midway through the first half to give us the lead, but Grant Hall headed Rangers level immediately after half-time.
Said Benrahma restored our lead from the penalty spot, before Watkins made sure in the fourth minute of stoppage-time when he tapped in Mathias Jensen’s pass after a swift counter-attack for his 10th goal of the season.
BBC London commentator and presenter Phil Parry assesses QPR’s campaign, looks at how ex-Bees Mark Warburton and Yoann Barbet have been doing and recalls some great past Bees-Rs matches at Griffin Park.
Q – What has sparked QPR’s remarkable goalfest in 2020?
A – QPR have been able to find the back of the net with regularity throughout the season to be honest but 11 in two games is pretty spectacular. They do have some potent weapons in attack with two strikers on loan from Premier League clubs in the shape of Hugill and Wells plus the emerging talent developed closer to home such as Eze, Osayi-Samuel and Chair. When things click then this combination can certainly create multiple chances, proven by the games against Cardiff and a much-altered Swansea. I’m not quite sure how much influence the opposition had on their own demise in these festive fixtures, but I am sure the supporters of the Welsh duo may argue the fact.
Q – How you would assess the Rs season overall?
A – I suppose the one thing you’re guaranteed when watching QPR is goals. Mark Warburton’s side are the second highest scorers in the Championship but have the third leakiest defence – resulting in a goals aggregate which means on average you are likely to see almost three-and-a-half goals every time the outfit from W12 play. Value for money.
As a consequence, the up-and-down nature of the campaign is no surprise but heading into 2020 with a chance to make a play-off push will, I think, be seen as a decent position to be in. I do not envisage that too much will change and while adding to a clean sheet total of just two might be tough, goals at the other end will keep games and the season interesting.
Q – What were the expectations for QPR at the start of this season – promotion push, mid-table or relegation battle and why?
A – After yet another managerial change at Loftus Road/The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium and yet again the need to build a squad over the close season – perhaps expectations were for consolidation and period of gentle construction. Warburton’s previous record at Griffin Park would have given hope that the club had appointed a manager with a clear identity of what he wanted to do. The desire in the stands was to see further growth from the upcoming young talent in the squad.
Based on the restructuring which needed to be done with the squad, I think realism would have suggested that a mid-table to top half aim was realistic, but in what has been a fairly unpredictable Championship, hopes may have soared. As ever a little bit of a cup run is always desirable, although in Shepherd’s Bush quite often over the last two decades that has meant winning at least one game. This year it could be a lot better than that with a winnable fourth round tie at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
Q – Brentford fans know Mark Warburton well, but what sort of impact is he having at Rangers and does he seem to be managing differently to his time at Griffin Park?
A – Mark has certainly wanted to impose his possession-based, attacking style at Rangers and it is certainly reaping rewards with the goals that they are scoring. Of course the downside has been the failure to tighten up at the back, and perhaps there is a little bit of form on that front too. The mantra of “If plan A is not working, Plan B is to do Plan A better” still seems to apply, although the rapidity with which he had to put a squad together will have influenced that.
He and the club deserve credit for getting a group together over the summer ready to play and win football matches, and there certainly appears to be some fun in W12. It will also mean that he gets another chance this coming close season to develop his squad, although he may have to accept losing some of his young talent, and will need to replace current loanees.
Q – Before he got injured, how was Yoann Barbet doing?
A – I always liked Yoann as a chap and I reckon his presence in the dressing room was a very positive one for the QPR squad. He offered some balance on the left of the central defence and of course he had decent delivery from open play and set-piece. He did, I believe, have to make some last-ditch tackles, not always successfully and picked up some cards as well as giving away free-kicks and penalties. He maintained his professionalism and continues to be ready to put himself on the line showing a really positive attitude.
Q – It’s QPR’s last-ever visit to Griffin Park, barring a cup tie or play-off, so what are your memories of previous games in TW8?
A – The history behind the intense rivalry always helps to create a great atmosphere when QPR visit Griffin Park and it usually makes for a momentous occasion. That should be no different for this one. I have seen some classics too. My first commentary was when Marc Bircham scored a last-minute winner for the visitors back in 2003 and the contrasting emotions from the fans was extraordinary.
The record in recent times has been much more positive at home for the Bees and there have been some great performances. The win three years ago with Barbet scoring and clearing off the line, and Jota with some lovely skill for the third. And of course a super performance last season which could have been a bigger scoreline, although the Ealing Road no doubt loved the fact all the goals came in the second half.
Q – What style of football should Brentford fans expect to see from Rangers?
A – Warburton wants his sides to play attacking football with a lot of possession, they have players who are good on the ball and are keen to create chances. It is not within his team’s DNA to close up and “park the bus”, which makes for exciting games, especially when facing opponents who are keen to get forward or who have the talent to hurt the opposition in the final third.
Q – Which players should we watch out for?
A – I think that most of the names who will be mentioned here are already in the public consciousness. Eberechi Eze is a talented player and creates a buzz when he gets on the ball, he’ll take on shooting opportunities. Bright Osayi-Samuel likes to take on opponents and has a directness which asks questions of defenders, he’s is also able to snaffle chances.
From a defensive point of view Geoff Cameron is seen as pretty important when playing in a holding role, his experience allows him to break up play and aid the defence, which as we’ve said before has a propensity to concede, although injuries may well force the former Stoke man to play in defence.
Q – Finally can you give me a possible QPR starting line-up and formation?
Kane Cameron Hall Manning
Osayi-Samuel Chair Eze
BEESOTTED SCORE PREDICTIONS
Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their predictions for the score for Saturday’s game.
3-0 Bees. Bees dominate a recently rampant Ra-Ras team into submission, with a silky, skilful, free-flowing performance to continue our good run and keep the pressure on the top two. Edward the Headward
2-0 Bees. A rested Brentford side continue their good run of form against QPR, and turn on another great display in front of the TV cameras to keep us in the automatic promotion race. Liberal Nick
4-2 Bees. A rampant Warburton-QPR attacking force will have their defensive frailties exposed in a cracker of a final West London derby on the hallowed turf of Griffin Park, as Peter Gilham inspires one more masterclass. Benrahma gives Leistner some more considerations about his footballing talent, Watkins runs riot and the Bees take the three points. Robin Hood
1-0 Bees. Late, late show steals it for the Bees after Warbs throws plans A, A plus & A minus at us. Lou Boyd
1-1. A scrappy game with both teams wanting to get forward ends up with both teams lacking the cutting edge. Strong argument that players didn’t wake up early enough for the lunchtime kick off. Tom Fidler
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For QPR fans coming to Griffin Park for the final time, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be). As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the newly-opened and renamed The Brook pub – which has jumped on the craft beer bandwagon – are the other options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields.
The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles. There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave) – right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
If you decide to get off at South Ealing station, we’ve heard a few people pop into Roddy’s Bar. Whereas The Ealing Park Tavern (back in the day, the infamous Penny Flyer) is fairly busy now that they seem to have lifted their “no football fan” policy. If you like your craft beer, another fairly new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road, which is fairly busy before and after the match. There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road. This pub is situated on the location of the now-demolished Oxford & Cambridge pub where Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889. There is also The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. If you sit in the garden, you can see Brentford’s new stadium towering over you.
There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy – just take a walk down Strand On The Green. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around. Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look out for the parking signs which change from area to area.
Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.
The reality is the tube is easier and quicker (and cheaper). It’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (even less from Paddington) on the Piccadilly Line and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford
If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station (turn LEFT outside the station) to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops – 5 minutes).
If you get off at South Ealing, you can get the 65 from the bus stop across the road – right outside the station.
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.