Ian Westbrook previews QPR’s visit to Griffin Park in an attempt to win their first match in TW8 since 1965
QPR come into Saturday’s game boosted by an important win over Leeds on Tuesday night.
Rangers went into the match on a run of seven consecutive Championship defeats, but a goal from Luke Freeman shortly after half-time was enough for a 1-0 victory which stopped the rot.
Their inconsistency is the reason why the Rs look set to spend another season in the second tier next term.
While they pulled off three wins in a row in both October and December, they have not managed to build on this with, aside from the recent bad run, three pairs of back-to-back league defeats and four consecutive league losses, including a 7-1 hammering at West Brom, to start the season.
Rangers have picked up nearly two-thirds of their points at home this campaign, with their away record showing four wins, four draws and nine defeats.
They played three rounds in each of this season’s cup competitions. In the Carabao Cup, they were upset 2-0 at Blackpool in the third round after victories over Peterborough (2-0) and Bristol Rovers (3-1). And in the FA Cup they beat Leeds 2-1 and Portsmouth 2-0 in a replay after a 1-1 draw, before losing 1-0 at home to Watford.
This is QPR’s 12th season out of the past 15 at this level, with the other three in the Premier League, of which they were one of the founder members in 1992.
Saturday’s match marks the third return to Griffin Park of our former captain Jake Bidwell, who left us for Loftus Road in the summer of 2016.
The left-back made more than 200 appearances in our colours after originally joining us in November 2011 on loan from Everton. He made the move permanent the following summer and was a regular in our play-off and promotion sides and also in our first two seasons in the Championship.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Steve McClaren was appointed as QPR manager after the end of last season to replace Ian Holloway.
The former England boss had previously been a coach at Loftus Road under Harry Redknapp in 2013 and had been out of work since leaving his job as Derby manager in March 2017.
He was previously a coach at Manchester United, helping their treble-winning side of 1999, before taking his first managerial job with Middlesbrough, who he led to their first major honour – beating Bolton 2-1 to win the Carling Cup in 2004 – and also to the Uefa Cup final, where they lost 4-0 to Sevilla.
He then had an unsuccessful year in charge of England, where we failed to quality for Euro 2008, before winning the Dutch league with FC Twente and then going on to have spells as boss at Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle and two at Derby.
Steve made more than 300 senior appearances in a playing career that took him to Hull, Derby, Lincoln (loan), Bristol City and Oxford.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
There have been seven meetings between the sides in the Championship since we won promotion in 2014 – as well as one in the Carabao Cup – with four Brentford wins, 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 last 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 this 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.
Q – QPR have been really inconsistent this season – awful start, good middle and another dreadful run before Tuesday stopped the rot. What do you think is behind this constant change of fortunes?
A – The poor start was arrested with some astute late transfer business with the loan acquisitions of the likes of Tomer Hemed and Nahki Wells, along with the arrival of the experience of Geoff Cameron and Angel Rangel. Momentum and confidence are also imponderables and the belief gained from the upturn in results in the autumn may well have been self-perpetuating.
The loss of Cameron and Rangel may have had the effect of testing a squad which couldn’t be refreshed in January because of a transfer embargo. There were also some tight defeats, moments of misfortune and the fact they played some sides hitting form. How they end the season will be an interesting watch.
Q – Has Steve McClaren tried to change anything in the line-up or tactics to arrest the recent slide?
A – In recent weeks McClaren switched to a three at the back formation, saying it suited the players he had available to him. He seemed keen to persist with the formation with the knowledge that the likes of Fulong, Wszolek and Bidwell would give him the flexibility to change it. He also appears to have tried various combinations of front players in a bid to get the goals flowing.
Q – Like Brentford, Rangers look almost certain to be in the Championship for another season in 2019/20 – what were the club’s expectations at the start of the campaign?
A – The club have been talking about the need to establish a culture and build their DNA. The presence of Les Ferdinand as the Director of Football driving the whole ethos forward is viewed as being important as they aim to become grounded in their roots. As a consequence there appears to be an aim to develop talent internally and connect with the fanbase while building a more long-term future plan.
That meant that the aims for this season appeared to be stability, rather than a mad and potentially costly scramble for a top six spot. Perhaps the model at Griffin Park has resonated. Mid-table security was the realistic aim and the expectation in the stands, but the bust and boom of bad and good runs obviously can skew people’s views.
Q – How much do you think this derby means to Rangers and their fans?
I think that there’s a decent local rivalry between these two. While the history means real antipathy towards the events of the 1960s gives the Bees the moral high ground, proximity means that many fans of each club have mates, neighbours, colleagues and even family members who support the other.
That makes for a dynamic of good rivalry for starters, but added to that have been recent games and comparisons between the clubs on and off the pitch. The Bees’ plan and new stadium can be juxtaposed with QPR’s need to settle into what the future holds. It will make for a good atmosphere.
Q – What have been the high spots of the season so far for the Rs?
There have been some decent results including home wins versus Leeds in both the League and the FA Cup, and I suppose there was an historic moment when for the first time ever the chaps from Loftus Road won away at Nottingham Forest. The performances of one or two of the younger players have also provided reasons to be optimistic for the future.
Q – How has “Mr Consistency” Jake Bidwell been doing this season?
I have a soft spot for Jake, because of his professionalism and his great attitude either on the pitch or of it. He is always respectful to deal with and good to chat with. I think we all know what Jake is strong at and he continues to display these strengths. His ethic and approach has continued to shine through in good and bad times. I’m sure he will get some flak, as is the way with returning players, but I’m sure he will enjoy another return to GP.
Q – Which Rangers players should Bees fans watch out for on Saturday?
Luke Freeman has quite rightly been getting a lot of attention for his performances. He signed a new contract at Loftus Road earlier in the season, but there is a fear that he will be coveted by other teams come the summer transfer window. Pawel Wszolek is really pacey while a couple of the younger players such as Eberechi Eze and Bright Oseyi-Samuel,can get the pulses racing.
Q – Finally can you tell me a likely Rangers line-up and formation please?
Furlong Leistner Hall
Wszolek Cousins Luongo Bidwell
BEESOTTED SCORE PREDICTIONS
Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their score predictions for Saturday’s game.
5-2 Bees Brentford to teach QPR a footballing lesson and continue the home form with another thumping five-goal plus win, as the long ball to Matt Smith causes us some problems too. Dave Lane
We seem to blow hot and cold at the minute. Were this game back at Loftus Road I wouldn’t be so confident, but as home form stands I see a 2-0 victory for the Bees. Liberal Nick
3-1 Bees Brentford romp to a fourth consecutive Griffin Park win over QPR, as the Bees’ front three run riot. Greville Waterman
2-0 Bees I think QPR only beat Leeds to ensure that the visiting fans had something else to moan about. QPR’s poor form to continue. Our good home form to continue. Billy Grant
3-0 Bees Josh McEachran inspires Bees. Gerry the cabbie
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For QPR fans coming to the game, 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 Royal Oak 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.
And another new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road.
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, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.
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 our 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.
By tube, it’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.
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