Joey Barton says QPR players are focussed

Barton insists QPR players know the importance of next eight matches

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UPDATED:

18:12 GMT, 29 March 2012

QPR captain Joey Barton and team-mate DJ Campbell have admitted they both realise how important the last eight games of the Barclays Premier League season are to the club.

Mark Hughes' side are currently 18th in the table and play six of the current top 10 in their remaining fixtures as they battle to keep their top flight status.

That demanding run starts against Arsenal on Saturday and Barton said he believes both teams are desperate for the points, but for very different reasons.

Concentrating: Joey Barton says QPR are focussed on the games ahead

Concentrating: Joey Barton says QPR are focussed on the games ahead

Barton said: '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.

'They'll 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.

Navigator: Mark Hughes must steer his side to safety through tricky terrain

Navigator: Mark Hughes must steer his side to safety through tricky terrain

'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.'

Arsenal are on a seven match winning run in the league and face a QPR side at Loftus Road who are short of attacking options.

Djibril Cisse starts a four game ban following his second red card for the club in last weekend's defeat at Sunderland while Heidar Helguson is still injured and Federico Macheda has returned to parent club Manchester United after being ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.

Hughes will therefore be delighted at the timely return to fitness of Campbell who is looking to avoid being relegated from the Premier League for the third time in his career.

'I've had a few relegations in my time and it's not nice,” he told the Fulham Chronicle.

'It affects people right through the club, not just the playing side. It was a horrible situation to be in.'

Frustration: QPR have beaten stronger teams but stumbled against weaker ones

Frustration: QPR have beaten stronger teams but stumbled against weaker ones

Campbell has always been a QPR fan and is determined not to go down as he did during his time at both Birmingham and Blackpool.

He said: 'At Birmingham we went down and straight back up the following year, so it was a rollercoaster of emotions.

'I've been promoted with Blackpool as well but the Championship is a tough league to get out of. We're not thinking about that and are desperate to avoid the drop.'

Defender Clint Hill is fit for the visit of Arsenal as Hughes looks for a similar result in front of his home crowd as the R's have managed against both Chelsea and Liverpool so far this season.

A defeat could see Rangers three points adrift from safety with seven matches remaining including away games at Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City but 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.'