• Premier League

Samba: I'll stop Van Persie

ESPN staff
February 23, 2013
Christopher Samba is seeking to nullify the threat of Robin van Persie © Getty Images

Queens Park Rangers' defender Christopher Samba believes he can stop Manchester United striker Robin van Persie in his tracks when the Red Devils travel to Loftus Road on Saturday.

Samba, a £12 million January signing from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, is seen by manager Harry Redknapp as a vital piece in the club's bid to survive the relegation battle.

But with league-leaders United heading to London for the chance to stretch the gap at the top to 15-points, Rangers face a difficult task to claim the victory and a valuable three-points.

However, Samba, who believes United are the heir apparents to this season's crown, is confident he can slow their momentum by halting top scorer Van Persie and in turn, help his team retain its Premier League status.

"Van Persie is an excellent player but I've been working on my fitness and I'm really much fitter than I was for the last game at Swansea," Samba told The Sun. "So it will be more difficult to beat me.

"He is on fire but I am positive I can have a good game against him - although it is not only him we have to stop because United have a lot of top players. They will win the Premier League this year but they are coming to QPR and we need the points more.

"When you play against top teams, you need to be on top of your game. We have everyone pointing in the same direction and we need to put that into practice out on the pitch."

Samba's transfer from the Russian Premier League was one of the big stories during the last transfer window, the 28-year-old's price-tag raising eyebrows in many quarters.

However, the former Blackburn player denies he will be a an expensive flop, pointing out he has taken a hefty drop in his £120,000-a-week salary to help Rangers beat the drop - an ignominy he experienced at the Lancashire club. And now that he is closer to his family, Samba is ready to show his commitment and desire to repay the faith of club chairman Tony Fernandes.

"I don't know how you judge if it's too much money but I know some people do," he said. "Is £12m too much? I don't know. Or if it was another player would it be OK? Maybe someone else is more worth it?

"I think the transfer came across totally wrong because of the valuation. At Anzhi, I had three years left on a big salary so, obviously, if I came to QPR it was not to make more money … it was just a question of me really wanting to be back with my boys.

"Maybe some people believe what I have done in football, my reputation, what I did at Blackburn was enough for this. I'm not there to judge it. I've been bought. It's not me who chose to buy me. I didn't set the price. I've been bought for a reason -- because QPR believe I can make a difference.

"I certainly believed I could lead the team. I don't know if it will be enough but, one thing is for sure, I will do my best to help the team. People can talk about these things but they don't really know me. When I go on to the pitch, I give everything. Sometimes everything can be fantastic, sometimes it can be not enough, but I give my all."

But with Rangers sitting bottom of the table, seven-points from safety, the Loftus Road faithful will just be hoping Samba can use his past failures to guide the club up the table and back towards safety.

"I don't think here is really similar to what happened at Blackburn. Emotionally, it's very different, too," Samba said. "But, of course, when you get some experience you know how to handle it better. And that's something I can help with.

"When you know what's going on, sometimes you see how a player can react and you can say, 'Guys, just keep calm and let's talk about what's gone wrong'."

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