Club News

Clarke wary of Gunners backlash

But boss fully focused on getting his own team back on track

STEVE Clarke has urged his players to beware the wounded animal when his side take on Arsenal on Saturday (ko 3pm).

The high-flying Baggies will arrive at the Emirates Stadium five points, and as many places, above the Gunners in the Barclays Premier League table.

And Arsene Wenger’s men will be eager to quickly put right last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat by Swansea, which left them tenth after 15 games – their worst start to a season for 18 years.

“The way the game is now means, no matter what club you’re at, if your team is not doing well you’re going to get criticism,” said Clarke.

“That’s the state of play with Arsenal at the moment.

“The team hasn’t been firing as maybe people thought they would do, especially after the start they had.

“They’ve introduced a few new players this year and it’s maybe just taken the team a little bit longer to find a rhythm than it did before.

“But nobody can question the record of Mr Wenger.

“It’s a great record, he has done fantastically for the football club and I’m sure the club will stick with him.”

The Baggies will also be looking to bounce back with a positive result following successive defeats by Swansea and Stoke.

“It’s a game that we have to be positive about and look forward to,” Clarke added.

“The last two games have been frustrating for us for different reasons but going down to the Emirates is a different challenge.

“Arsenal are probably not playing as well as they would like and they’ve had some reverses so they’ll be fired up to try to turn their season around.

“We’re not fired up to turn our season around - but we’re fired up to keep it on track.”

Albion suffered a 3-0 reverse at Arsenal last term but Clarke is hoping the memory of their 3-2 victory there the season before – the Baggies’ first win on Gunners soil in 27 years - supersedes that in his players’ minds.

“As a player you just enjoy going to the big stadiums and playing against the bigger-name teams,” he said.

“We’ve got a group of players who are experienced in the Premier League and I think they will relish the challenge of going down to the Emirates and trying to get a positive result for us.

“It’s strange when you think of your record against teams in the past, but there probably is a bit of a feeling in the players that they have been there and had a good result, and they know how to go to the Emirates and win.

“Hopefully they’ll take that memory with them rather than the one they had last year.”