Queens Park Rangers captain Joey Barton says his team-mates are playing for their careers as the struggling club attempt to beat the drop. QPR face in-form Arsenal at Loftus Road on Saturday after a poor run of results which has seen Mark Hughes' side fall into the relegation zone with eight games remaining.
With a daunting run-in looming, the Londoners look to be heading for a swift return to the Championship after a disappointing first season back in the Premier League. Barton said the stakes for QPR could not be higher as they prepare to entertain the Gunners. "This is more than a game of football now. The next eight games govern our futures," Barton told QPR's official website.
"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."
Failure to avoid relegation is likely to leave some Rangers players without a club next season, Barton warned. "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."