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Liverpool-Queens Park Rangers Preview
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Queens Park Rangers begin their tricky ten-game run-in when they welcome Liverpool to Loftus Road on Wednesday evening.
In the relegation zone and with games against Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City also to come, Rangers look likely to struggle to survive the drop, but manager Mark Hughes is happy that his team are being prematurely written off.
"It's not easy - we make no bones about that," said Hughes. "It's a difficult run-in. Maybe, going into those games, the pressure is off somewhat, bizarrely. We're the underdogs and we're not expected to win. We can use that as a positive and hopefully gain from that. There are going to be twists and turns.
"We know each game is going to be crucial, irrespective of the opposition we're going up against. It's really key we perform at our maximum. If we do that then, certainly in our home games, we can take on anybody.
"It's been frustrating. We haven't helped ourselves on some occasions and, on other occasions, circumstances have gone against us. But we're still very, very confident that we have enough ability to make sure that we're still in the Premier League next year. It's going to take hard work - we realise that - and we're not going to stick our heads in the sand and think otherwise.
"We've got enough quality to score enough goals and defend our goal as well. That gives me confidence that, in the next games that we have, we'll get points on the board. We just need a fair crack of the whip. If we perform as we know we can, at our maximum, and we get that element of luck that you have to have to be successful then we'll be fine. But it needs to start quickly and it needs to start on Wednesday."
Visitors Liverpool are seven points outside of the European places going into the latest round of league games, and were hit by rumours of a summer exit for star striker Luis Suarez this week. But the Uruguay international has moved quickly to deny the reports.
"I have spoken with people at the club and they know that I want to stay and that I am enjoying myself and am very happy here," said Suarez. "No one at the club has told me that they want to try to sell me or that I will be leaving.
"I'm going to carry on playing my football here at Liverpool. There are a good few years left on my contract and I want to carry on enjoying myself because both my family and I feel really happy here."
QPR have doubts over Fitz Hall (knock), Adel Taarabt (hamstring) and DJ Campbell (hamstring), while Andre Faurlin remains out with a knee injury. Liverpool may be without Martin Kelly (knock), Suarez (knock), Craig Bellamy (knock) and Glen Johnson (hamstring), while Daniel Agger (rib) and Lucas Leiva (knee) remain out.
One more draw would be a century of draws away from home for Liverpool in the Premier League, while the Reds are also four short of 500 goals on the road in the EPL. QPR have 11 points from their first 14 home games of the season and no team has ever survived with less than 12 points at this stage. QPR have dropped 15 points from winning positions this season - more than any other team in the division - while Taarabt has had more shots without scoring (63) than any other top-flight player. Liverpool have won just two in nine in the league since the turn of the year.
Updated March 19, 2012