West Brom V Stoke at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

30 November 2012 06:31
West Brom V Stoke - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Clarke backs Baggies to bounce

Steve Clarke is backing West Brom to bounce back from their mauling at Swansea, insisting: "I've got no reason to have a go at these players".

Albion conceded three goals in a half-hour period at the Liberty Stadium as their four-game winning sequence came to an end with a 3-1 defeat.

It meant they slipped to fourth in the Barclays Premier League ahead of Saturday's home encounter with Stoke.

But head coach Clarke said: "In terms of bouncing back, we don't have to prove anything on that score.

"We'd lost a couple of games previously this year and we'd always come back in a good way and we look forward to doing that at the weekend.

"I was quite controlled about what I said at Swansea. We had a little chat at half-time about trying to do things better in the second half and there was a response.

"I've got no reason to have a go at these players, no reason whatsoever.

"We are in a fantastic position, we've had a great season, we took 12 points out of 15 in November.

"What would give me the excuse to have a go at them? There is no reason for it.

"We bounced back after the Fulham game, which was a poor performance, and beat Reading and got the 1-0. If that's the way it is (on Saturday), I'll be delighted."

Albion have failed to beat Stoke at the Hawthorns for nine years but have won six of their seven home games this season.

Clarke said: "Stoke is always a hard game, they always cause their opponents problems, but it is a challenge for the players.

"Tony Pulis has done a fantastic job establishing Stoke in the Premier League and they play better football than they are given credit for.

"We haven't got a good home record against them but this is a different group of players, and we've got a good home record this season."

Clarke insists Albion have plans in place should strikers Romelu Lukaku and Peter Odemwingie be ruled out in January.

Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez has hinted he could recall on-loan Lukaku while Odemwingie may be needed for African Nations Cup duty by Nigeria.

Stoke striker Peter Crouch is desperate to play despite having his teeth knocked out in Wednesday's win over Newcastle.

The former England man was forced off the pitch five minutes before half-time after being caught in the mouth by a flailing arm from Magpies defender Fabricio Coloccini.

Crouch lost two teeth while two more were driven into his gum, but the striker and Potters boss Tony Pulis are hopeful he will be able to play wearing a brace.

"Peter's gone to see a specialist and we're going to see, if he's comfortable enough, whether he can wear a brace. So we haven't given up hope that he can be involved," Pulis said.

"It's all about how he gets on with the brace. I spoke to him (on Thursday) and he was very keen to be involved.

"He's been an exceptional signing for this football club in lots of ways. He's a great lad and he wants to be part of it."

Whether Crouch is passed fit is likely to determine whether Michael Owen is included in the squad.

The striker has missed the last month with a hamstring problem and, although he is now fit, Owen will not be preferred to either Kenwyne Jones or Cameron Jerome, who both made big impacts off the bench on Wednesday.

Full-back Andy Wilkinson, who has missed the last two matches with a back problem, is not fit enough to start but may be among the substitutes.

Wednesday's 2-1 win made it 10 points from the last 12 for Stoke, who climbed up to ninth in the table.

It is their home form that has been the key, with the Potters winning four times at the Britannia Stadium, where they are unbeaten in the league this season, although they have yet to pick up a maximum haul on the road.

Victory at The Hawthorns will be a big ask, though, given fourth-placed West Brom have won six of their seven games at home.

Stoke do have history on their side, however, having won eight of their last 11 meetings with West Brom, including on all three of their previous Premier League visits to The Hawthorns.

West Brom did manage their first win over the Potters since 2003 at the Britannia Stadium in January.

Meanwhile, Stoke have announced that midfielder Diego Arismendi has returned to his native Uruguay after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

The 24-year-old made only five appearances for the Potters after joining the club from Nacional in his home country in 2009 for #2.5million.


Source: PA

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