Top take on bottom as Man United take on QPR at Loftus Road.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says he has no problems with Manchester City’s attempts to undermine his side’s confidence ahead of the trip to basement club Queens Park Rangers.
On Saturday, United have the chance to move 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, with City not in action until they face Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
City manager Roberto Mancini has continually attempted to put pressure on his title rivals by promising they will stumble.
A host of City players have also reminded United that they let an eight-point advantage slip over the course of the final six games of last season.
Ferguson admits he would come up with similar ploys if he was in City’s situation, but also expects the Blues to drop points over the course of the final 12 matches.
“My experience of this situation is that teams drop points,” he said.
“I know they’re going on about us dropping points, and I’d say the same things to be honest with you, but the fact of the matter is that they will drop points too.
“It’s unavoidable. It’s a tough league and it’s not easy winning all of your games.
“At the moment we’ve got a good momentum and the only thing we can do is try to win our next game and the one after that and see where it takes us.”
United are unbeaten in 16 matches in all competitions and have secured 12 wins over that run.
Ferguson added: “Win our next match is the only thing we can do and there are great examples of that.”
Phil Jones is definitely absent from the game at Loftus Road after sustaining an ankle injury in the 2-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory over Reading on Monday.
Striker Wayne Rooney missed that match with a sinus problem and will also miss Saturday’s game.
Rangers are seven points from safety but Ferguson thinks they still have a chance of survival under manager Harry Redknapp.
Ferguson said: “It might have helped them if he’d gone there a bit earlier, but they are where they are and it’s not easy down at the bottom of the league, and Harry would be the first to admit that.
“But with his experience and his ability to judge players then he will have a better chance than most in that situation.”
Christopher Samba, the QPR defender, is less upbeat about his side’s chances of survival in the wake of the 4-1 defeat by Swansea City last time out that brought an improved run of form to an abrupt end.
Samba, signed from Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala for £12.5 million ($19.7 million, 14.6 million euros) during the January transfer window, reacted angrily to the display and admitted it was a low point.
“We shouldn’t be ashamed of performances but I was ashamed of mine and the team’s against Swansea,” he said.
“We need to show great attitude and commitment. I have nothing to hide — I was very angry. I said what I saw to the players. There’s nothing worse than feeling full of regret.”
As far as Samba is concerned, the one positive to be drawn from the display was the goal-scoring appearance of Bobby Zamora from the substitutes’ bench.
Zamora is easing his way back to fitness after a lengthy injury absence, although a hip problem means he is unlikely to be able to feature for more than 45 minutes in each of the remaining fixtures and may require further surgery during the close season.
Samba, though, believes the forward’s contribution set the standard for his team-mates during the remaining weeks of the fight against relegation.
“Bobby Zamora showed us what the Premier League is about when he came on,” Samba said.
“I think more of the players should have his attitude: urgency that reflects we have 12 games left and must play every one like a cup final.”
Venue Loftus Road, Saturday 3pm
Last season QPR 0 Man Utd 2
Referee Anthony Taylor
This season’s matches 17 Y41, R6, 2.76 cards per game
Queens Park Rangers
Subs from Green, Murphy, Ben Haim, Yun, Bosingwa, Diakité, Granero, Park, Rémy, Hoilett, Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Bothroyd
Doubtful Bosingwa (back), Júlio César (groin), Hoilett (hamstring), Rémy (groin), Zamora (hip)
Injured Johnson (knee, Apr)
Unavailable Da Silva (terms of loan)
Form guide LDDDDW
Disciplinary record Y40 R2
Leading scorers Taarabt, Zamora 4
Subs from Johnstone, Lindegaard, Buttner, Powell, Anderson, Hernández, Smalling, Vidic, Giggs, Nani, Kagawa
Injured Jones (ankle, 2 Mar), Rooney (illness, 2 Mar), Scholes (knee, 9 Mar), Fletcher (bowel, Aug)
Form guide WWWDWW
Disciplinary record Y43 R0
Leading scorer Van Persie 19
QPR have never beaten Manchester United in 11 previous Premier League encounters, managing just two points from a possible 33. Their only home draw during this period came in March 1996 when a stoppage-time Eric Cantona equaliser cancelled out Denis Irwin’s own goal.
Rangers’ last home win against United was a 3-2 top-flight success in May 1989 when midfielder Andy Gray scored twice.
Manchester United have never failed to score at Loftus Road during the Premier League era, hitting three goals in three of their five visits.
Harry Redknapp hasn’t won any of his last 11 Premier League matches against Manchester United since his Portsmouth side won 2-1 at home in August 2007. In total, he has won three of 32 career Premier League matches against them (21 defeats).
Defeat last time out was QPR’s only loss in their last six league games – their best run of form this season.
The R’s have registered three successive goalless draws at home. It’s 332 minutes since they last conceded a league goal at Loftus Road – Daniel Agger’s header in Liverpool 3-0 win at the end of December.
QPR are four points down on this stage of last season when they had 21 points from 26 games.
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 14 league matches. They have taken 38 points from a possible 42 during this period.
Only three clubs in top-flight history have had a better record after 26 league matches than this current Manchester United side – Tottenham in 1960-61, Liverpool (66 points) in 1987-88 and Chelsea (66 points) in 2005-06. All won the title that season.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are looking to keep a third successive clean sheet for the first time this season.
United have conceded the opening goal in 12 league fixtures this season but have gone on to claim a league-high 27 points from losing positions.
Man United 22/1 to win 4-0: QPR vs Man United Betting