LONDON: Relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers are desperate to
beat high-flying Arsenal today as the players are fighting for their
careers, according to outspoken club captain Joey Barton.
QPR are third from bottom in the
Premier League, while third-placed Arsenal travel to Loftus Road aiming
to cement their bid for an automatic Champions League slot.
'We're as desperate for the points as they
are, for totally different reasons,' said Barton. 'People's careers are
on the line here. I'm not sure that's the case at Arsenal. This is more
than a game of football now. The next eight games govern our futures.'
Things are looking bleak for
QPR, who are majority-owned by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes.
Striker Djibril Cisse is banned for four games following his sending-off
last Saturday at Sunderland - his second dismissal since signing for
the club in January.
The club's chief executive Philip Beard also
made an embarrassing slip of the tongue while speaking at the Soccerex
European Forum in Manchester on Thursday by stating 'when we go down'
before hastily correcting himself to say 'if'.
With games against Tottenham, Chelsea and
Manchester City to come as well as a trip to Swansea, where Arsenal and
City both lost, Beard's mistake was understandable.
Arsenal are on a roll after winning their last
seven league matches. They are hopeful centre-half Laurent Koscielny
will be available at QPR after pulling out of the Aston Villa game last
weekend during the warm-up with a knee problem.
With only a three-point advantage over
fourth-placed Tottenham, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger accepts that
there is little room for complacency.
'This is the period where what we do matters
the most, so we just want to keep our focus on this, and not worry about
anybody else's results,' he said.
The Frenchman was yesterday slapped with a
three-match touchline ban in Europe for criticising Slovenian referee
Damir Skomina after Arsenal were ousted by AC Milan in the last 16 of
the Champions League. He was also fined €40,000 (S$67,100) by Uefa.