Clarke also explains decision to deploy Anichebe out wide
STEVE Clarke has challenged Albion to prove they are a good team – by bouncing back with a ‘big performance’ against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Baggies’ five-game unbeaten run was halted by a rampant Liverpool side whose 4-1 win has kept them in third place.
Albion entertain opponents at the opposite end of the table this weekend, with newly-promoted Palace slipping to the bottom after suffering their eighth defeat in nine games against Arsenal.
Clarke says it is vital his players get back on track against the Eagles, who are being managed by caretaker boss Keith Millen following Ian Holloway’s departure.
“Liverpool were the better team and we’ll take our medicine,” said Clarke.
“But as I said to the lads after the game, good teams normally bounce back with a good performance and three points – and that’s what we aim to do.
“We’ve got good experience in the group and I expect a good response and big performance in what is a big game for us this weekend.
“We’ve got Palace at home in the middle of a difficult little run, because after that we have to go to Stamford Bridge, which is never easy.
“We have to make sure we’re right on Saturday. Mentally, I think the players will be fine.
“They have got good experience of this league and know how to get results and how to bounce back from reverses – and Saturday was definitely a reverse.
“I’m not going to hype the Palace game up. They’re obviously struggling for a bit of form.
“We’re at home and have been playing well.
“We have to put Saturday down as a blip in what has otherwise been a quite impressive run and we’ll look to bounce back with a good performance.”
Clarke has another theory as to why his team were below par at Anfield, claiming the fixture may have been a bridge too far after a tough run of games.
“We’re still growing as a team, group and club,” he reflected.
“To go to Manchester United and produce a big performance and win, compete very, very well against Arsenal who were the leaders at the time and get a point, go into a difficult game at Stoke and produce another good performance that should have got us three points, and you’re then wanting the players to come again at Liverpool – it’s a big ask.
“I think the fixture list has not been too kind to us of late.”
Clarke also explained his reasoning for deploying Victor Anichebe in an attacking wide-left position at Anfield for the first time since the forward’s deadline-day arrival from Everton.
“I felt that with Victor’s power and strength off the side, he could cause Liverpool a problem,” added the head coach.
“It’s a position he probably played in more often at Everton than he did as a striker. He knows that role well.
“But it didn’t work out for us.
“It’s something I’ll have to go away and look at. We’ll reassess and try to be better next week.”