After 45 minutes on Saturday it looked as if it was going to be another routine three points for the Baggies against a lacklustre and unorganised Queens Park Rangers side. Early goals from James Morrison – after Shane Long’s excellent run and cross – and Zoltan Gera gave the Baggies an early advantage.
Adel Taarabt’s goal in the 35th minute came against the run of play. It was the first time Rangers had threatened Ben Foster – and the first time Albion had conceded a goal at home this season. One thing it did highlight was that while Gabriel Tamas is an adequate deputy for the injured Reid and Jones he’s not a long-term option. The Romanian failed to track the run of Taarabt which allowed him time to control and volley past Foster.
The goal gave hope to Rangers and put Albion on the back foot for long periods of the second half. While there will be spells in games where teams dominate, it didn’t help that Albion lost composure on the ball with numerous passes going astray until Youssouf Mulumbu’s goal calmed the nerves. Esteban Granero’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation.
Albion’s fourth straight home win initially moved the Baggies up to fourth after seven games. Head coach Steve Clarke refused to get carried away afterwards. The Scot insisted that Albion’s priority was still to avoid relegation. But after Albion’s start surely there’s the chance to look beyond that this season. I don’t for one minute think that we’ll challenge for Europe, but realistically we can achieve a top ten finish again.
Talk afterwards on radio phone-ins discussed whether this was the best team since the late 1970s. I don’t think there’s any question. In goal we’ve got the second best English goalkeeper in the country. In defence Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley continue to be one the best pairings in the league. In front of them, Yacob and Mulumbu offer protection and creativity going forward. Then there’s James Morrison and Shane Long causing problems up top. It’s easy to see why we’ve become the top team in the Midlands. The only way is up.
Come on you Baggies.
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