Baggies defender ready for titanic tussle with Potters frontmenGARETH McAuley admits Wednesday’s defeat by Swansea was a wake-up call – and is delighted Albion will have the chance to try and put things right so quickly against Stoke tomorrow (ko 3pm).
The Northern Ireland international believes not doing the basics cost the Baggies dear as they conceded three first-half goals in the 3-1 reverse at the Liberty Stadium.
And he is eager to get his teeth into the Potters as Steve Clarke’s side look to hang on to their top-four place.
“We were very surprised with the performance on Wednesday,” said McAuley.
“We didn’t do what we’ve been doing to win games and when you do that, especially at a place like Swansea, who are a good team who keep possession and pass the ball well, you’re going to get hurt.
“We found that out to our peril in the opening 15 or 20 minutes.
“We didn’t turn up really.
“The energy and closing down and all the things we’ve been doing to get ourselves into the position we’re in, we didn’t do right, especially in the first half, and we deserved what we got.
“It was a slap in the face but we will take it on the chin and move on because we’ve got another big game against Stoke so, although we’re gutted with the performance at Swansea, it’s a chance to put that right and we want to do that.
“We want to keep pushing on and this is a wake-up call that we can’t just turn up and roll teams over.
“We know that we didn’t do it on Wednesday night and the team that is selected tomorrow will certainly be trying to put that right.”
He added: “Stoke will be tough but we have backed ourselves into a corner and we’ve got to come out fighting.
“We will expect a big response from the team that is selected to play on Saturday.
“Our home form is excellent and we’ve got to keep that going.
“It is important to keep picking up results.
“Our first priority is to get to 40 points and then after that we will see what we can do.”
City will arrive at The Hawthorns on the back of a four-game unbeaten run and McAuley knows he will have a job on his hands against the little and large strike partnership of his former Ipswich team-mate, Jonathan Walters, and Peter Crouch.
“Stoke are a threat,” said the Baggies centre-half.
“They play the ball forward quickly and it’s a challenge to deal with their frontmen.
“It is a different challenge to Wednesday night.
“They’re very good at set-pieces.
“I know Jon Walters well from my Ipswich days so I know they practice a lot.
"It will be a different game for us, and a different challenge, but we’ve got to get our teeth into it and make sure we’re right.
“We prepare for each game as it comes.
“They will have a different system and a different approach.
“We knew what we were facing on Wednesday night, we just didn’t apply ourselves well enough.
“We know what we’ll be facing against Stoke and we’ve got to go and do our jobs better than we did on Wednesday.”