Queens Park Rangers-Liverpool Preview
It's now or never for struggling Queen's Park Rangers.
Chris Ramsey's QPR are languishing on 27 points going into the latest match day, still four points from safety with just four games to play.
Rangers have lost just one of their last four, but a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa and last weekend's disappointing stalemate with West Ham have left the west London club needing to win at least two in four to survive.
That daunting task starts Saturday against Liverpool at Anfield.
"We need to win two of the four games left and probably draw another," Ramsey said. "They are going to be difficult games. We have to approach them in the same way we have approached games against other big teams.
"We've held our own against other big teams in the division but you end up where you are because of a lack of quality."
Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool are throwing away their season. The Merseysiders were well-placed to reach the FA Cup final and challenge for the Champions League qualification places little more than a month ago. However, a disappointing defeat to Aston Villa in the semis scuppered the club's cup chances, while a run of just one win in five in the league has seen them lose touch with the top four.
Such a capitulation has inevitably resulted in speculation about Rodgers' future, but he is already looking ahead to a title challenge next season.
"Of course, we wanted to be in that top four, but it was always going to be very, very difficult for us with how the season mapped itself out with the squad, injuries and whatnot," Rodgers said. "We can't take away that we're fighting for a great club and we're looking now to get the pace and momentum we can take through into next season.
"We have got a lot of fantastic players and youthful players but at the times in the season where it is tough, we have to be able to get through that. If you're going to make a challenge, like we did last year, at the top end that's what you're going to need. That will be the challenge for me between now and the end of pre-season, to rebuild a group and team that can get through not just the smooth but the rough waters."
Jon Flanagan, Mario Balotelli, Lucas Leiva, Daniel Sturridge and Mamadou Sakho are all doubts for Saturday's game for Liverpool, while Rangers have a host of injury concerns. Ramsey will be without the services of Eduardo Vargas and Alejandro Faurlin, while Mauro Zarate, Bobby Zamora, Armand Traore, Michael Doughty and Rio Ferdinand are all doubts.
Liverpool edged QPR 3-2 at Loftus Road in October with four goals coming after 86 minutes, two of which were stoppage-time own goals. The Reds have won three straight against QPR and six of the last seven meetings, while Rangers have never kept a clean sheet in 13 Premier League head-to head matches.