Joey Barton says QPR players are fighting for their careers


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The Independent Football

QPR captain Joey Barton has admitted the final few games of the Barclays Premier League season have much more at stake than points and pride.

The controversial midfielder is likely to lead the side out against Arsenal at the weekend knowing that some of his team-mates are playing for their respective futures in the game.

He told the club's official website: "This is more than a game of football now. The next eight games govern our futures.

"We're as desperate for the points as they are - for totally different reasons obviously.

"But there are livelihoods on the line here. People's careers are on the line. I'm not sure that's the case at Arsenal to be honest."

The R's have struggled for consistency in the top flight since being promoted as npower Championship champions last season.

And despite home wins over the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, Barton is all too aware the club are still in a relegation dog-fight which could leave some players without a club come next season.

"They'll (Arsenal) want to win the game because they're professionals and they'll want to finish in the Champions League places, which is a minimum requirement for them," he said.

"But there are lads here whose careers are on the line - all the lads need to realise that. If we don't, we'll be punished for it."

A goal from Robin van Persie separated the two sides when they met at the Emirates on New Year's Eve and Barton reckons the QPR players did themselves proud that day.

He said: "Arsenal are a really good footballing side - they're the in-form side in the league.

"But I feel when we went to the Emirates we acquitted ourselves really well. I think we deserved to get something out of the game.

"The manner of that defeat was frustrating, because we gave a good account of ourselves.

"We went there with a game-plan to make it really difficult for them and we did that for very long spells."

QPR youth team coach Marc Bircham suggested yesterday that games against 'bigger' sides could prove easier at this stage of the season than facing teams in and around the relegation picture, and Barton is keen to show Arsenal they are no pushovers, especially at Loftus Road.

"I think Arsenal will head here expecting to win this game," he said.

"The Arsenal dressing room will think this is the kind of game they should win, but Liverpool probably thought the same.

"There's a difference between thinking you should get the points here and actually getting points here."