Without dwelling too much on Saturday’s result, it’s safe to say that Queen's Park Rangers' Premier League adventure all but ended thanks to the defeat at Goodison Park – and then subsequent Sunderland victory on Sunday. Ten points adrift of safety, five games to go and even my D in Maths can work out that Rangers need a miracle to save the top flight skins. Especially when you consider the level of performance from Harry Redknapp’s team at the weekend, when, after some flashes of bright spots in the first half, looked as though they all but gave in once Daron Gibson fired the Toffees in front. It meant the second half was more like a training game for the home side, and they never needed to venture out of second gear once Anichebe had settled the game before the hour mark. Not exactly the fight you’d expect from a team scrapping for their lives, in this golden goose of a Premier League season.
Yet they say it’s the hope that kills you, and despite not feeling like I had an ounce of hope left in me after the R’s trip to Merseyside I decided to take to BBC’s predictor app and see how far off Rangers would be come the final day. However to my surprise, after second-guessing every result for the remainder of the campaign, I looked at the final table to see QPR pull off modern-day miracle and avoid inevitable relegation. How in Wegerle’s name had that happened? Well, without aiming to do so, I had gone and predicted five wins out of five for Harry’s men that would leave them on 39 points and see Reading, Wigan and Stoke fall through the Premier League trap door. Could this be? After another Saturday night ruined by a QPR result, how have I managed to predict such a ridiculous outcome to such a horrendous season? So I went back and did it again, and really thought about the games Rangers had left, along with the teams around them and their fixtures. And yet again I came up with the same conclusion, and that five wins could well mean there’s still some small light at the end of this Mark Hughes laden tunnel.
So I went one step further, just to make sure I’m not going mad and wrote down the reasons why I think QPR can win their last five remaining games and pull of what Sky would no doubt call ‘The Greatest Escape of All’! Forget the lethargic performance on Saturday, ignore the ‘dedication’ shown by Granero and Park, and focus what could yet save Rangers top-flight status.
Standings before Saturday, and assuming Manchester City beat Wigan on Wednesday.
16 Stoke 33 34
17 Aston Villa 33 34
18 Wigan 32 31
19 QPR 33 24
20 Reading 33 24
This whole last thread of optimism hinges on this Saturday’s game with a Stoke side, who are frankly in free-fall right now. Only one win in 2013, and on a run of six defeats that was only separated by a goalless draw with West Brom - no wonder Michael Owen is quitting. The fans are turning on Tony Pulis and they look like team who’ve forgotten how to win football games. Loftus Road will be nervy, much like the Wigan game but you feel an early goal would see the Potters heads drop and give Rangers win one on this unlikely last chance.
On the same weekend; Reading lose at Norwich, Wigan draw at West Ham, Manchester United batter Villa.
16 Stoke 34 34
17 Aston Villa 34 34
18 Wigan 33 32
19 QPR 34 27
20 Reading 34 24
A six pointer like no other before it and win or bust for Reading. I think it will be the home side who will come out all guns blazing, and Rangers will have to withstand some heavy pressure. However, the key is the long game here, and if QPR can keep it goalless and then nick a goal on the break - it could be the end of the Royals and the continuation of a run for Harry’s side.
On the same weekend; Stoke draw with Norwich, Spurs beat Wigan in their fight for fourth. Villa pull clear with a win over Sunderland.
16 Sunderland 35 35
17 Stoke 35 35
18 Wigan 34 32
19 QPR 35 30
20 Reading 35 24
The biggest question mark for me. This could be the day QPR fans believe in the dream ending or it all comes crashing down with a bang. Last season Rangers recorded a memorable win at Loftus Road over the Gunners, with Adel Taarabt the key. I think he could have a big say here too, the kind of game Adel’s relishes with a team fresh off the back of back-to-back wins. We’ve seen that Arsenal are vulnerable this season and with new momentum and a noisy Loftus Road QPR pull off the victory.
On the same weekend; Wigan only draw at West Brom, Sunderland beat Stoke at the Stadium of Light.
16 Aston Villa 36 38
17 Stoke 36 35
18 QPR 36 33
19 Wigan 35 33
20 Reading 36 25
After Wigan gain a much needed win over Swansea in the midweek, Rangers play their final home game, as a packed out Loftus Road welcomes Newcastle. The Magpies will still have their own slight relegation concerns, but having beaten Liverpool the week before would only need a point to be sure. Rangers, however, could move out the bottom three with a win, and buoyed by the last home crowd of the season Remy nets the winner against his former suitors.
On the same weekend; Stoke lose to Spurs
16 Newcastle 37 38
17 QPR 37 36
18 Wigan 36 36
19 Stoke 37 35
20 Reading 25
We all know how the last day often throws up random results, and with Liverpool ready for their summer holidays QPR have the chance to pull off the great escape at Anfield. Of course The Reds will want to sign off in style, and will remain favourites for the game, but I can see this being the R’s ‘David Weatherall’ moment as they finally get that slice of luck they’ve been deprived off this season and nick the game 1-0.
On the same day; With Wigan having lost to Arsenal in midweek, they slip up at Villa Park by only gaining a draw, Stoke fail to beat Southampton.
16 Sunderland 38 39
17 QPR 38 39
18 Wigan 38 37
19 Stoke 28 36
20 Reading 38 25
It’s blind hope yes, and those aren’t tactical analysis of the games or even valid reasons for QPR to pull it off. While I seem to have forgotten some of players ‘fight’ from Saturday amongst those games. But what it does show that it can still be done, and there is one final roll of the dice if these Rangers players are up for it.
Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Probably. Hopeful? Unfortunately so.