LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - Wayne Rooney will have George Best’s goalscoring tally in his sights when he tries to help Manchester United take a stranglehold on the Premier League title race at home to Queens Park Rangers on Sunday (1230 GMT).
The leaders can heap the pressure on second-placed Manchester City by opening an eight-point gap over their mega-rich neighbours who face a tough trip to Arsenal later in the day (1500).
There are only seven league matches left and, if he maintains his scoring rate this season, Rooney is likely to get the four he needs to equal Best and Dennis Viollet’s total of 179 United goals before the end of the campaign.
“I‘m obviously proud to be up there and in touching distance of some legends of the club,” the England striker told the monthly magazine Inside United.
“Hopefully I can overtake them soon.”
Former Northern Ireland great Best, who died in 2005, and Viollet are joint third in United’s list of all-time scorers behind Denis Law (237) and Bobby Charlton (249).
“I’ve seen the record and a few people have reminded me of it as well but I‘m still a long way away from Bobby and Denis,” said Rooney.
“It would be an unbelievable feeling if I could get Bobby’s record. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to do it,” added the 26-year-old who already has 28 goals in all competitions this season.
“It’s not something I look at all the time, it’s something I’ll probably take more notice of when I’ve finished playing.”
Rooney has scored 21 goals in the league this season and another one or two against fourth from bottom QPR at Old Trafford at the weekend should turn up the heat on City who face a difficult assignment at third-placed Arsenal.
Arsenal’s seven-match sequence of league victories ended last week when they lost 2-1 at Rangers and Arsene Wenger’s side are determined to bounce back against City.
“I think we can deal with pressure when it is thrown upon our shoulders,” said Arsenal winger Theo Walcott.
“We are learning to grind out results now. We have real character in the squad, a lot of leaders and captains, and that helps us.”
Arsenal are level on 58 points with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur who continue their bid to clinch the top-four spot that will earn a Champions League qualifying place for next season with a visit to mid-table Sunderland on Saturday (1145).
Spurs have a five-point lead over Chelsea who host second from bottom Wigan Athletic on Saturday (1400).
Chelsea and Tottenham also have Easter holiday fixtures on Monday away to Fulham and at home to Norwich City respectively.
The weekend programme starts on Friday when sixth-placed Newcastle United, who are level on points with Chelsea, visit mid-table Swansea City (1530). (Editing by Ken Ferris)