Club News

Olsson eyes local bragging rights

Defender targets first Baggies hat-trick since 1968/69

JONAS Olsson is determined to see off Stoke on Sunday and help preserve Albion’s recent run of finishing as the highest-ranked West Midlands club in the Barclays Premier League.

Albion host the Potters at The Hawthorns (ko 3pm) in what is their final match of the season.

The Baggies go into the clash two places and two points below Aston Villa in the table, knowing they must claim all three points and hope their local rivals do not in order to leapfrog them in the standings.

Albion have finished as top dog in the West Midlands in both of the last two seasons - but have not done so for three successive campaigns since managing the feat on six consecutive occasions between 1963/64 and 1968/69.

Centre-back Olsson revealed: “There’s still a few teams we’d like to catch.

“For the last two years running we’ve been the top West Midlands club and we’ve got a chance to do that again this season.

“It must have been a long time ago that West Brom were the top West Midlands club for three seasons in a row.

“That’s a goal we would like to achieve and that means we need three points on Sunday so we’ll do everything to get them.”

Albion are all but mathematically safe from relegation heading into the last day, with a three-point advantage and a massive +17 goal difference over third-bottom Norwich, who host Arsenal.

Pepe Mel’s side could still realistically finish anywhere in the table between 14th and 17th place.

It may not be as lofty as eighth last year but Olsson knows the competitive nature of England’s top flight means ambitions of improvement are not always realised each season.

He is keen to stress that Premier League survival remains an achievement for a club of Albion’s size, yet he is firmly focused on returning after a summer break and writing the wrongs of this term.

“It’s a season to look back on, to reflect, to analyse over the summer and try to do better next year,” the Sweden international said.

“I still think for a team like West Brom, any time you achieve another season in the Premier League it is an okay achievement.

“You can have ambitions and targets but there needs to be a balance between that and reality.

“We finished eighth last season and we wanted to do better this year.

“But we also realise that it is a tough league and there are five, six or seven teams at the top and behind that it is very even.”

Olsson added: “As a player, you put pressure on yourself to do better and to progress and our ambitions were to finish higher than last season.

“But sometimes you’re going to have tough seasons like this.

“What’s important then is to get over the line, analyse why you had a tough campaign and then do better next year.”