West Brom v QPR | Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 19:30 | Sky Sports
Going into Matchday 46 of the Championship season and there is still so much to play for on the final day. The second automatic promotion spot, two play-off positions and all three relegation spots are all to be decided on Wednesday night.
At The Hawthorns, it is very much the battle for the runners-up position behind champions Leeds that is firmly on the agenda as West Brom take on mid-table Queens Park Rangers.
WBA thought they had blown their opportunity for automatic promotion following a 2-1 defeat to then manager Danny Cowley’s Huddersfield Town. Following that clash at the John Smith’s Stadium, Baggies boss Slaven Bilic all but conceded second position to Brentford, and insisted his side must now get ready for the play-offs.
The following day, Brentford failed to take advantage as Stoke City secured their Championship status for another season with a shock 1-0 victory. Another chance is afforded to West Brom and they’ll be desperate to get over the line.
There is always two teams at play and QPR are very much looking to play the role of party spoilers when they make the trip to the West Midlands. Whilst potentially climbing up another spot in the table to finish the campaign in 13th might not seem like a great incentive for the Rangers players, the chairman will certainly be keen to get that little bit more in finance!
Manager Mark Warburton has been critical of his side post-lockdown, but a 4-3 win over rivals Millwall last time out will have raised spirits. A win which ended Millwall’s top-six aspirations.
One thing that I am pretty certain of is that there will be plenty of twists and turns on this final day of the season. Certainly in the battle for second, I wouldn’t be surprised if West Brom, Brentford and Fulham are had possession of the position at some point in the night. The one advantage for West Brom is that they will feel this is like a second chance after the Huddersfield lost, and surely lightning can’t strike twice? Can it?
Some will probably argue that QPR are the perfect type of opposition on the final day. They’re in mid-table with effectively nothing to play for, but doesn’t that make them just as dangerous.
QPR are an outfit that impresses when they let the shackles off and really go for it. After all, they’re the joint-fourth highest scorers in the division despite their bottom-half standing. The issue is that only Luton and Hull have conceded more. QPR have already beat Leeds this season and also smashed Cardiff 6-1, so it is within their capability to cause a surprise.
One slight worry for West Brom is their home record against bottom-half opposition this season. Defeats to Wigan, Stoke and Middlesbrough, as well as draws to Barnsley, Charlton, Birmingham and Reading suggests that they don’t favour these type of conditions. Of course, the bookies have them incredible short to win knowing what is at stake, but I sure as hell am not touching 1/4 on a WBA win.
Nervy encounter awaits
They are clearly the most likely winners, but I’m not prepared to discount QPR, even though there are perhaps several reasons why we should. I just can’t see West Brom just rocking up and putting on a show here.
I expect it to be an extremely nervy occasion, although this is probably one situation where having no crowd could be advantageous. Nevertheless, they will be nervy, and they’re ultimately three without a win at this crucial stage of the season, and QPR do raise their game against the big boys.
West Brom’s record versus bottom-half clubs has been noted, but QPR have rarely been disgraced in versus the top sides, with the exception of a 4-0 home loss to Nottingham Forest. They’re won away at Preston and Millwall, and they had two very competitive encounters with Fulham this season, too.
Both clubs are in and around the 60% in terms of their Championship encounters seeing both teams to score, and so a price of 11/10 (Sky Bet) for another such encounter to materialise looks great value to me. The first goal is key here, but I can only foresee a nervy type of display from West Brom.