STEVE Clarke has explained why he opted to start Shane Long ahead of 13-goal top scorer Romelu Lukaku in today’s 2-1 defeat by Arsenal.
And the Baggies boss also revealed Peter Odemwingie missed the Hawthorns clash after suffering a training-ground injury.
Long and Lukaku lined-up alongside each other in last weekend’s 3-1 reverse at West Ham.
But Clarke opted for the former to play the lone striker role against the fourth-placed Gunners, while the latter dropped to the bench before coming on with Markus Rosenberg as a 62nd-minute double change for Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas.
And Ireland international Long proved too much to handle for Per Mertesacker, who was sent-off after bringing him down for the 71st-minute penalty that James Morrison converted to give the hosts the chance to push for a late equaliser after going 2-0 down.
“It was tactical,” said Clarke.
“Every team we’ve put out against the top teams this season we’ve always started with one up front.
“My call was whether to start with Shane or Romelu.
“Today it was Shane because I felt his particular style could cause their two centre-halves a problem.
“By and large it worked out that way.
“When Romelu and Markus Rosenberg came on we were chasing the game and there was a momentum to the team at that stage.
“They both made a good impact, which is pleasing.
“Peter picked up a little niggle through the week so we decided not to involve him in the squad.”