Club News

Clarke: City provide huge mental test

But boss confident his men can stand up to champions

STEVE Clarke insists the visit of Manchester City to The Hawthorns on Saturday (ko 3pm) will provide his players with one of the biggest ‘mental’ challenges of the season.

The Baggies boss is relishing the prospect of seeing his side defend their 100 per cent home record against the champions.

But he knows their concentration levels will have to be at their peak to stop Roberto Mancini’s multi-million pound stars.

“You have to be right physically and mentally because the mental drain is big,” said Clarke, whose sixth-placed side are just a point behind City in the Barclays Premier League table.

“For me it’s a great game.

“It’s the champions coming to our home ground.

“We look forward to the challenge.

“They are a top team, that’s why they’re champions.

“Last year they were the best team.

“They deservedly won the league.

“I know they made hard work of it towards the end but they’re a good team with a lot of really good players.

“It’s up to us to make sure we’re ready to give them a difficult match.”

The Baggies' goalless draw in the same fixture on Boxing Day last term made them only the fourth team to take a point off City – and the first side to stop them scoring.

And Clarke is confident his men have it in their locker to stand up to the top teams this season after convincing home victories over Liverpool and Everton and a draw at Tottenham.

“What we achieved in the previous season makes it good to remind the players they can stand up to a team of Man City’s stature,” he added.

“But the players know that anyway.

“They’ve already played against some good teams this year and stood up to them all.

“We’ll just approach the game with our normal mentality and try to get another positive result.”