Queens Park Rangers of the Football League Championship (second-highest division overall in the English football league system) were relegated from the English Premier League last season, but it may not be a long stay away from the top flight. Only seven games into their season and they already seem to be the favorites to win the league and be promoted.
They’ve yet to lose a game, winning five and drawing two. But the most telling sign that they are a club worthy of running away with this league is the fact that they’ve conceded just two goals on the season — and more impressively none in their last five.
They finished dead-last in the table last year, winning just four matches and earning only 25 points, three fewer than Reading and 11 fewer than Wigan Athletic, who were also relegated. This was due to their inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Their 30 goals on the season were easily the fewest of the league’s 20 clubs, coming in at about 1.25 goals per match. However, they gave up 60 goals on the season — not an eye-popping number, but six clubs finished with as many or more than that amount.
There were also several matches throughout the season where QPR seemed to belong playing amongst the best clubs in the world. They finished in a scoreless draw against second-placed Chelsea in September and followed it up by beating them 0-1 in January of this year. Shortly after beating Chelsea they drew with eight-placed West Bromwich Albion 1-1 in the FA Cup, submitted a scoreless draw against fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in league play, topped West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the FA Cup, and drew 1-1 against 10th place West Ham United for an impressive five-match run.
After their great start to the year, they were eliminated from FA Cup play but bounced back with impressive league performances to finish the month of January and transition into February with an outside chance of avoiding relegation. They had back-to-back scoreless draws against third-placed Manchester City and 11th-placed Norwich City on January 29th and February 2nd of this year, respectively. In all, the second half of their season was worthy of staying in the EPL, but their first half alone did them in. Their 2013 record in the EPL was 3-6-9; far better than their 2012 performance of 1-7-12.
While nothing this season in the Championship has changed for the club in terms of scoring (they’ve scored one goal per game so far) their defense has become even stingier. It will be enough to help them back into the EPL, but they’re going to need to figure out how to bolster their anemic offense once they get there or it will be a quick return back. Only six of the Championships 24 clubs have scored fewer goals than QPR and they’ve still managed first place without any defeats, so if this club can get some help on offense, they could be a big deal even in the top flight.