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QPR V Stoke at Loftus Road Stadium : Match Preview
Published : 06 May 2012 12:30:47
Hughes chasing vital three points.
Mark Hughes knows QPR need all three points from Sunday's "huge game" with Stoke if they are to keep their Barclays Premier League survival hopes alive. Only goal difference separates the west Londoners from the relegation zone with two matches remaining, leaving them in serious danger of an immediate return to the second tier. QPR travel to title-chasing Manchester City on the last day of the season but first face a vital clash with Stoke at Loftus Road. Hoops defender Anton Ferdinand said earlier this week that the match was the biggest of the players' lives and Hughes too is aware of the task ahead of them.
"It is a huge game and we understand totally the significance of it," the Welshman said. "Given our position and the position of the teams in and around us - and the points accrued at this point - then obviously we need to get maximum points. "It is not going to be easy. Stoke are a very accomplished Premier League side and Tony Pulis has done a great job there. "It is going to be difficult because they put you under pressure and they've got good weapons. "We'll have to be able to combat that but, in fairness, if we play as well as we have in our home games against the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Swansea then we'll be fine. "That said, we certainly can't replicate what we did against Chelsea [last weekend when they suffered a 6-1 defeat]. "With the intensity of our game and the determination that we show in our home games with the fantastic support that we have, then we have a real chance of getting maximum points, which we obviously desperately need." QPR come into the match off the back of their humbling at west London rivals Chelsea. The manner of defeat has seen many write off the season finale at the Etihad Stadium, but Hughes is only interested in the match with Stoke at the moment. "We know we have got two difficult games," he said. "Stoke, whoever they go up against, will always test you and always put you under pressure at some point in the game. "They will create chances because of the way they play and the way they approach the game. "We have got to be able to cope with that and the Man City game - which we're not really looking that far ahead, to be perfectly honest - is a different kind of test, but we will face that once we have got the Stoke game out of the way." QPR will be boosted by the return of Adel Taarabt after suspension, although it is yet to be seen whether Samba Diakite will be well enough to feature.
QPR and Bolton's fellow strugglers need have no doubts about Stoke's appetite to win their final two games of the season, according to manager Tony Pulis. The Potters are safe in mid-table but will have a potentially decisive say in who goes down as they prepare to face Rangers on Sunday and Bolton next weekend. Those two teams and Blackburn appear in the most danger of joining Wolves in the npower Championship next season, but Wigan and Aston Villa are not safe yet. Stoke could be forgiven for winding down at the end of a season that started in July, but they still have targets of their own to strive for, with a top-10 finish not yet out of reach. Speaking about Sunday's clash, Pulis said: "It's going to be a big game. It's important we approach it in the right manner. We want to get as many points as we possibly can.
"Obviously it's very important for QPR and the teams at the bottom of the table and I understand we have a responsibility, but as a football club we want to do well ourselves. We have a responsibility to ourselves first and foremost, never mind anybody else. "I know all the emphasis will be on QPR and Bolton but, as a football club we have to have the respect, dedication and determination to go on and do as well as we can. "We've still got a chance of getting 50 points so we'll work our socks off to do that. It'll be like a cup final for them, it has to be, and we have to be ready for it." The match will be Stoke's 55th of the season and third in eight days but, aside from confirming Thomas Sorensen will play in goal as part of his European Championship preparations, Pulis has no firm plans to shuffle his squad. Winger Jermaine Pennant (hamstring) and defender Andy Wilkinson (groin) remain doubtful after missing Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Everton while midfielder Rory Delap (back) is also struggling.
QPR V Stoke - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.