The Final Furlong…
With West Brom still in the hunt to claim the final automatic promotion place, I spoke to West Brom fan Chris Lepkowski about West Brom’s season overall and the impact ex QPR players Austin and Furlong have had on them.
How would you assess West Brom’s season?
CL: So far, so good. Missed a glorious chance to claim promotion last Friday so this really does represent an unexpected second bite- all thanks to Stoke beating Brentford. In many respects the season will be defined on whether Albion will win promotion or not.
After Stoke beat Brentford the final automatic promotion place is in your hands, can you make it over the finishing line?
CL: We have it in our own hands. If we play as well as we’re capable of playing, then yes. It will come down to how well they handle the pressure.
How have ex QPR players Charlie Austin and Darnell Furlong been this season?
CL: Austin has struggled for fitness. He still cannot last more than an hour- 11 months into the season! Furlong on the other hand has been impressive generally. He attacks well but defensively is a little less secure.
Player of the year Candidates?
CL: Matheus Pereira has been excellent. Deft, quick, hard-working. He has provided so many goals, chipped in with a few himself. To secure him for £8.25m is great business. His dying swan routine irritates, but his contribution has been crucial. Without him, Albion wouldn’t be anywhere near the top two. I’m not sure there is anyone better in the league.
Weak links in the team?
CL: The strikeforce. Austin (10), Robson- Kanu (10) and the hapless Kenneth Zohore (3) haven’t scored enough goals. A goalscorer would have seen this side over the line a while ago. If Albion do go up, we’ll need to invest significantly for next season.
Head to head and form
QPR have lost all of the last three fixtures against West Brom and the last time QPR faced West Brom at the Hawthorns ended in a 7-1 defeat. In the most recent results, QPR recorded a 4-3 against Millwall which was their second win since the restart whilst West Brom lost 2-1 to Huddersfield which ended their five-game unbeaten run. West Brom remain second in the table looking to claim the second automatic promotion place whilst QPR sit in 14th looking to claim their best finish to a season since the 2016/17 season.
Aside from Kieran Gibbs who is nursing a hamstring injury, Bilic has a clean bill of health ahead of the game. Austin, Grosicki and Krovinovic are all pushing for a start.
As for QPR, Bright Osayi- Samuel remains out of the squad amid interest from Belgium side Club Brugge whilst it remains unknown whether Jordan Hugill will be fit enough to feature whether that be on the bench or in the starting line-up. Veteran defender Angel Rangel remains sidelined following a torn achilles and faces up to nine months out.