United target league double blow

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United_blow AP Manchester United face Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League as they look to extend their lead at the top of the rable.

London – Manchester United can strike a double blow this weekend when they travel to Queens Park Rangers, looking to see off a London side battling for its survival and taking another step closer towards a record 20th top-flight title.

Twelve points clear of neighbours and champions Manchester City at the top, United can keep their foot on the throttle by winning at QPR, who have won just twice in the league all season and who are now seven points from safety.

But United have enough experience to know that desperate sides can be dangerous animals.

“QPR are fighting for survival and we know it's going to be a hard game,” Ferguson told his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“That's what we need – we need to make sure we do our job right. The fact is, City will drop points too. That's where we are, coming into the run-in.

“We expect to drop a few points but so will they. To be honest, it's always a hard run-in in the Premier League. With the right attitude and the right players we have a chance.”

QPR manager Harry Redknapp believes the big occasion could bring out the best in his team.

“You can't predict results,” Redknapp told The Fulham Chronicle this week, referring to a an unlikely 1-0 win at Chelsea in January.

“We're playing Chelsea away on the back of being smashed to pieces by Liverpool. What's the score going to be you might ask? 3-0, and 4-0 to them? I was surprised as you were,” he said.

“We then play Tottenham at home who've beaten everybody away and have scored in all away games – and they don't score against us.

“Against Man City who are champions, we get another great point and then another at West Ham, which is a hard place to go.

“So we're just as capable of getting something against Man U as anyone else.”

On any other weekend, a Chelsea-Manchester City clash would be the obvious highlight but such is the gap between United and the chasing pack that it is little more than an after-thought.

City may have overturned an eight-point gap with six games left to pip United for the title last season but Roberto Mancini knows they cannot afford any more mistakes if they are to retain even an outside hope of retaining their title.

The problem for City, though, is that Chelsea appear to be improving and caretaker manager Rafael Benitez believes the last quarter of the season could see the outgoing European champions at their very best.

“To (have top players) play every game because we didn't have the options was a problem,” Benitez said.

“But at least now we will have fresh legs almost for every game. We've played so many games, 25 in three months. We can't train how we would like to, and then you have to carry on and play the next game.

“Still we are improving a lot of things but you have to keep on winning games. As soon as you lose or draw everything changes, but the team is working very hard, the staff are working very hard and I think we are going in the right direction.”

The relegation picture could become a little clearer as third-bottom Reading host second-bottom Wigan while Aston Villa, hovering above the bottom three, travel to Arsenal.

Fourth-placed Tottenham will be out to maintain their push for a Champions League spot with a good result at West Ham on Monday night, while sixth-placed Everton face a trip to Norwich.

Fulham play host to Stoke, Newcastle meet Southampton and West Brom face Sunderland in the weekend's other matches. – Sapa-dpa



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