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Mar 29, 2012

Barton: QPR players' careers on the line

QPR captain Joey Barton has issued a rallying cry to his team-mates ahead of the run-in, insisting that they are playing for their futures as well as Premier League survival.

The Rs are currently in the relegation zone, one point behind Bolton, and face a tough set of fixtures between now and the end of the season, including games against Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.

First up for Barton and co is the visit of the Gunners on Saturday and the QPR skipper is not underestimating the significance of the club's remaining games.

"This is more than a game of football now," he told the club's official website. "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.''

QPR have struggled for consistency in the top flight since being promoted as Championship winners 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 that 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.''

Barton has called on his team-mates to replicate the performance they produced last time they met the Gunners, when a Robin van Persie goal was all that separated the sides in a tight contest at Emirates Stadium in December.

"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.''

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