Just over a year ago, QPR pulled of what was one of the shocks of last season. The last-gasp 3-2 win over Liverpool at Loftus Road, after they had been two goals down, led to a run that saw Rangers avoid the dreaded drop to the Championship – defeating teams such as Tottenham, Arsenal and almost Man City along the way. Fast forward to Saturday, and the 2-1 win away at Southampton could well be the result that turn’s QPR’s season once again.
It was less dramatic than twelve months ago, and the gap between Rangers and Premier League safety is still bigger and more daunting than last season, but will offer the club a lifeline after many had already written them off. A lifeline, which even most QPR fans, would have also written off themselves having seen Harry Redknapp’s team-sheet prior to kick-off. Omissions for Adel Taarabt and Jamie Mackie, combined with a start for Jay Bothroyd was a surprise for most but a gamble well played by Redknapp, as Rangers once again enjoyed their trip to the south-coast.
It what’s proving a fruitful ground for Rangers – this was there third win in five games at St Mary’s – it was Redknapp’s gamble on Bothroyd and the returning Remy that earned the R’s a vital three points, and only their third win of the season. Last week, the R’s boss had admitted he was relying on Remy and strike-partner Bobby Zamora to get the goals that will keep Rangers up. With the pair’s injury record always in question, Bothroyd stepped into Zamora’s shoes and gave Harry another option in an area Rangers have been so severely lacking.
Indeed it was a pleasant sight to see two strikers making bursting runs into the box for the winning goal on Saturday, something with seldom seen from the super hoops this season. And they’ve even managed to outscore Robin van Persie at long last – although their goals tally is still on a par with Luis Suarez. Nevertheless, playing a front two, especially one of varying talents such as Loic Remy and Bothroyd, gave Rangers a bigger edge then they’ve had possibly since Harry arrived in W12.
Which all bodes well to what is different to last season’s great escape, and that’s the run of games that Rangers have between now and the end of the season. After the weekend’s victory over the Saints, they now face a clutch of games that include home games with Sunderland and Wigan, and trips to both the teams immediately above them in the table, Reading and Aston Villa. All games that now look that much more winnable, now that the side have recorded a morale-boosting victory. And mission impossible now seems like a genuine possibility, with the gap between Rangers and safety just four points.
Of course it’s not a simple as that, and as Rangers fans would quite readily testify this could this could be another false dawn. A win will boost confidence ahead of the next ten games, but performances will still need to improve. In a hasher reality Rangers were one Rob Green wonder save from another draw, and some Saints fan would even argue they did deserve something from the game. After all QPR had just three shots on target on Saturday, to Southampton’s nine – only the R’s managed convert when it counted.
Redknapp will know there’s still problems to solve in his Rangers side that one win won’t change, but what will change is the belief in the camp, now they’ve kicked-off this section of fixtures in victorious manner. The next few games present the team with a chance to build upon this result, and now that Rangers are back amongst the wins and back amongst the goals, Harry’s Houdini mission may still have some working legs in it yet.