Defender on playing at right-back, Arsenal and one final push
CRAIG Dawson is determined to draw on the experience gained from playing in the unorthodox position of right-back against Arsenal yesterday.
The centre-half was asked to play on the right side of defence at the Emirates Stadium with Steven Reid, Billy Jones and Liam Ridgewell all unavailable.
It was only the second time this season that the 23-year-old has filled in at right-back, coming after the club's FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace in January.
Yet he more than held his own out wide against talented Germany international Mesut Ozil, who was signed from Real Madrid for a club-record fee last summer.
"It's not ideal but we've had a few injuries so the manager asked me to help out and play at right-back," Dawson said.
“It's all experience and a learning curve for me."
Asked about facing Ozil, he added: "All Arsenal players are top-quality players and it was difficult at times but as a team we defended well and worked hard."
Olivier Giroud’s 16th Barclays Premier League goal of the season proved the difference on what was a sunny afternoon in the capital.
The Frenchman got the better of Dawson to nod home Santi Cazorla’s corner at the near post after 14 minutes.
“It was obviously disappointing to concede from a set-play,” Dawson said.
“The team worked hard and kept pressing but we just couldn't get that goal.
“Arsenal are a top team with quality players and it's always a difficult game coming here.
“I thought we performed well as a team, pushed hard, but just couldn't get that goal.”
Albion now enter the final week of the season with top-flight survival all but mathematically secured.
Pepe Mel’s side are three points and a +19 goal difference clear of third-bottom Norwich, who host Arsenal in their final match of the season next Sunday.
The Baggies, who need just one more point to be absolute certain of playing Premier League football next term, travel to 17th-placed Sunderland on Wednesday before hosting Stoke on the final day.
Dawson said: “We've got two games left and we just want to get as many points and finish as high up the league as we can.
“We'll push hard and take it as any normal week in the season.
“In the next couple of days we can make sure we're in the Premier League next season.”
In-form Sunderland are sure to be high in confidence in midweek having continued their fine recent run with a 1-0 victory at Manchester United on Saturday.
Dawson added: “Sunderland will be going into it off the back of a great result, it'll be a tough game for us.”