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Queens Park Rangers are tomorrow’s visitors at Turf Moor for a game that could see us become Football League champions with three games remaining.

Three more points are required to ensure we end the season on top and, given that Sheffield United have won their last two games, tomorrow is our first opportunity to win the league since promotion was secured with our 2-1 win at Middlesbrough.

We went top of the league on Tuesday, 25th October with a 1-0 home win against Norwich and that’s the position we’ve held after every game since. That win against Norwich moved us ahead of Blackburn, who had played a game more, and previous leaders QPR who were left with a game in hand.

QPR, it is fair to say, have not been close to reclaiming that top spot. They’d beaten Wigan on the previous Saturday, while we were winning at Sunderland. That win at the Stadium of Light kicked off a run of fourteen wins in fifteen games for us but QPR have won just twice since. They won 1-0 at Preston on the Saturday before Christmas and by the same score at home against Watford in March.

Having won thirty points from their first sixteen games, they’ve added just thirteen in 26 games since and now, 49 points behind us, are very much in a relegation battle. They are currently twentieth in the table but above both Cardiff and Reading by just one point.

How has it all gone so wrong? They were doing well under manager Michael Beale. He’d replaced Mark Warburton last summer and attracted interest from Wolves. He turned them down and told QPR fans: “I have been all in here and I have asked other people to be all in so I can’t be the first person to run away from the ship.”

Great sentiment but results immediately took a downturn and soon after he became the first to run away from the ship when he moved to Rangers in Scotland. In the aftermath of our win at Loftus Road in December they appointed former Blackpool boss Neil Critchley. That didn’t work out and that led to them bringing in Gareth Ainsworth, their former player and caretaker boss, from Wycombe.

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They are really in need of points from their remaining games, starting tomorrow at the Turf. Ahead of tomorrow’s game, Ainsworth has said: “It is going to be an intense atmosphere and a packed out Turf Moor but QPR tend to do well in these situations. We have got nothing to lose, everyone expects Burnley to win the title on Saturday and we are going to do everything we can to try and stop them.”

They drew their last game against Norwich and he added: “It was a real spirited performance in midweek and if we can take that into this Burnley game then I feel we have a chance of spoiling the party.”

Although QPR will be without both Ossie Kakay and Sinclair Armstrong, they are boosted with the news that Jake Clarke-Salter (pictured above), forced off against Norwich, should be fit.

Their team against Norwich was: Seny Dieng, Aaron Drewe, Jimmy Dunne, Jake Clarke-Salter, Kenneth Paal, Jamal Lowe, Tim Iroegbunam, Sam Field, Ilias Chair, Lyndon Dykes, Chris Martin. Subs: Jordan Archer, Rob Dickie, Chris Willock, Luke Amos, Dixon-Bonner, Taylor Richards, Albert Adomah.

Wins against Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, that left us promoted and then almost certain champions, have been followed by quite different draws at Reading and Rotherham. They have taken us to 92 points, just three points short of guaranteeing the title and that is very much the aim tomorrow.

There are four games remaining and tomorrow we know that a win will see us become champions without having to keep a look out for other results. With the next two on the road too before the season finale against Cardiff, it would be good to get it done in front of a packed Turf Moor.

Manager Vincent Kompany said: “It’s not happened yet. We feel there’s still a job to do but it’s definitely something we’re looking forward to in terms of how things have lined up for us to have the opportunity to do it in a home game.”

He added: “We’re preparing for a tough game. We faced Rotherham, Reading and Blackpool recently who were all fighting and the energy a team fighting to stay up can be difficult. We played well in those games but didn’t secure the three points that we wanted. This weekend we’re back at Turf Moor and that’s our special place and it has been all season, it won’t change on Saturday.”

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Midfielder Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson confirmed the desire to clinch the title this weekend “Definitely,” he said, adding: “Turf Moor has been a tough place for the opposition to come to and we’re going to keep that going on Saturday. We want to win the title, it would cap off a perfect season for us if we do that, especially at home as well.”

I wrote recently about the nine promotions I’ve now witnessed with four of those to date ending with a title win, but I’m still to see us win a league at Turf Moor. In 1973, it was at Preston while 1982 was won after we’d completed our fixtures. Then, of course, it was that incredible night at York in 1992 before the last promotion ended with the title clincher at Charlton.

It would be good to finally see one won on the Turf and let’s hope we can do that tomorrow.

As always the manager was reluctant to divulge any information regarding potential injuries but it looks as if we will continue to be without Hjalmar Ekdal, Nathan Tella and Jay Rodriguez.

The team that drew at Rotherham was: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Connor Roberts, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Jordan Beyer, Ian Maatsen, Josh Cullen, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Vitinho, Scott Twine, Anass Zaroury, Lyle Foster. Subs: Arijanet Muric, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Jack Cork, Samuel Bastien, Manuel Benson, Michael Obafemi, Ashley Barnes.




QPR’s last visit to Burnley came on May Day Bank Holiday in 2016. Ahead of the game, Brighton had been held to a 1-1 draw at home by Derby. That had taken them level with league leaders Middlesbrough with the two facing each other five days later in the final game of the season.

A draw would take us level and top on goal difference, but a win would clinch promotion and that’s just what we did with a Sam Vokes header just past the hour giving us a 1-0 victory.

It was a nervous first half from the Clarets but there was a vast improvement after the break. We were starting to exert some pressure on the QPR defence and then we won a free kick on the right hand side. David Jones took it and his ball into the box was perfect for Vokes to get across the defender before steering a header into the far corner.

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QPR did come close to an equaliser when Alejandro Faurlin hit the woodwork, but this was Burney’s day and when the final whistle blew we were promoted once more.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Ashley Barnes 76). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Matt Taylor, Lloyd Dyer, Rouwen Hennings.

QPR: Matt Ingram, Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill, Grant Hall, Cole Kpekawa, Karl Henry, Alejandro Faurlin, Junior Hoilett (Conor Washington 63), Michael Petrasso (Abdenasser El Khayati 70), Matt Phillips, Sebastian Polter (Ben Gladwin 71). Subs not used: Joe Lumley, James Perch, Axel Prohouly, Reece Greco-Cox.

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