West Brom V West Ham at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

25 April 2014 05:01
West Brom V West Ham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Get smart, urges Mel

West Brom boss Pepe Mel has stressed the need for his team to be "smart" in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with West Ham at The Hawthorns.

Mel is keen for the approach to be just right for a fixture he has billed as a "final" for Albion, who are 16th in the table on 33 points, three clear of the relegation zone and, the Spaniard feels, in need of four more from their last four games to ensure survival.

Specifically, he is looking for the Baggies to strike a balance between attacking and defending after the way some of their recent matches have gone.

West Brom have secured two wins, two draws and been beaten twice over the course of their last six games, during which they have scored 10 goals and conceded 12.

The midlands outfit, who have thrown away early 2-0 and 3-0 leads in their past two home matches to draw both 3-3, have kept only one clean sheet since Mel took charge in January.

And the 51-year-old wants to see forward endeavour coupled with defensive focus from his side against a West Ham team he regards as solid at the back and dangerous up front, particularly in terms of the aerial threat of Andy Carroll.

"What we need to do against West Ham is go out with the same attitude we showed in the first halves against Cardiff and Tottenham (the two 3-3 draws)," Mel said ahead of Saturday's contest.

"We need the players to be ready, both physically and mentally.

"Before the Norwich game (a 1-0 win earlier this month) we spoke about the importance of clean sheets - this thing we talk about so often that seems so difficult for us.

"Scoring goals for us seems rather easy and we need to find a balance between the two.

"In this game against West Ham we need to be very smart about things."

West Brom centre-back Gareth McAuley will undergo a late fitness test. McAuley sat out the 3-1 loss at Manchester City on Monday due to a calf problem that Albion are hoping he will have recovered from in time to face the Hammers.

Fellow defender Liam Ridgewell will definitely miss out because of the knee injury he sustained in the City contest, while on-loan winger Scott Sinclair is available again after being ineligible for that meeting with his parent club.

West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor has been given compassionate leave to be with his ill daughter.

On-loan forward Marco Borriello (calf) is sidelined. Defender Guy Demel could return having been laid low by a virus.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has challenged his side to stay focused in the "intense pressure" showdown which awaits them at relegation-battlers West Brom on Saturday.

The Irons head to The Hawthorns some seven points clear of the drop zone, but not yet mathematically secure of their place in the Barclays Premier League next season.

West Brom, meanwhile, are very much in the relegation mix, only three points clear, albeit with a match in hand on their rivals.

Allardyce knows all too well the importance for his side to retain composure, with their final two matches against Tottenham and Manchester City.

"The pressure will be pretty intense because we all know what is at stake. We have to handle it better than West Brom," said Allardyce.

"They have had a resurgence and at their home ground have been so close to so many victories and only slipped up in the dying seconds of two particularly thrilling 3-3 draws.

"We don't want to be in that position where we are trying to fight our way back from behind on Saturday.

"We want to be keeping a level playing field for as long as possible and our goal would be to do what we did at Sunderland, which was score the first goal and then go from there."

Source: PA