Club News

Clarke wants Gr-eight finish!

And boss eager to put on good show for home hordes

STEVE Clarke heads into tomorrow’s clash with struggling Wigan (ko 3pm) believing his side need three or four more points to cement an eighth-placed Barclays Premier League finish this season.

The Baggies have four games remaining and are eight points ahead of Fulham and Stoke, and six above nearest rivals West Ham and Swansea – the former three teams having played a game more.

And Clarke hopes his players take a huge step towards their target and break through the 50-point barrier with a tenth home league victory of the campaign at the weekend against an 18th-placed Latics team fighting for top-flight survival.

“There are still two or three teams below us that can catch us so we can’t afford to switch off,” he said.

“We have to cement eighth position and we’ll probably need a further three or four points to do that.

“That’s the next focus.

“Southampton might have thought it would be an easy game for them last week.

“It was a mid-table clash with nothing on it and we certainly went down there and showed them it mattered to us and we wanted the points.

“When Arsenal came here a few weeks ago we gave them a game and they were chasing a Champions League spot and seemingly had everything to play for - it was a game we should have got something out of.

“It will be no different on Saturday.

“We have our own ambitions and targets.

“We want to finish the season well, we like to play well in front of our own supporters and we like to give them something to shout about – and that’s what we’ll try and do at the weekend.”

Clarke does not feel the Latics will be distracted by the prospect of their first-ever FA Cup final next weekend.

And he expects a tough match against a Roberto Martinez outfit that he says has become accustomed to playing under pressure.

“The final will take care of itself,” the Albion chief added.

“Before that they have league matches they have to address.

“They have us on Saturday, which I can assure you will be a difficult one for them.

“We’ve been good at home this year and we’ll look forward to another good home performance.

“But Wigan are a team that are – this might not be the right choice of word – ‘comfortable’ to be down there fighting because over the years they have always been down towards the lower reaches of the league.

“They know what they have to do to get out of it.

“I think Roberto [Martinez] as a manager doesn’t panic.

“He knows there are still points to be had and they are a team that are comfortable and can still produce good football even though they seem to be struggling in their league position.

“They still have a chance to stay up because if they get the points they need they can stay in the league.

“All I’ve got to do is concentrate and make sure my team is right for the weekend, we put on the performance we want to give our supporters and hopefully get another win for us.

“I don’t think they’ll get an easy game here – there are not too many teams who have come to The Hawthorns and had an easy game this season.

“Hopefully we can continue that at the weekend.”