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McAuley promises fight to the end

19 March 2015

No let-up for Albion despite daunting finale

ALBION promise no let-up in their drive to distance themselves from the trouble zone as the Premier League heads for its last lap.

With nine games remaining, the Baggies have made significant progress under Head Coach Tony Pulis to build an eight-point gap from the bottom three while climbing to 13th in the table.

But with a final group of fixtures that pit the Throstles against some of the Premier League’s top teams, defender Gareth McAuley summed up the resolute mood in the Pulis camp.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal provide four of Albion’s last five opponents and the Northern Ireland international said: “We’ve got a lot to play for with these nine games left. 

“There are a few teams that are a few points behind us but if you start looking at things like that you will soon find yourself slipping away.

“The gaffer is not having any of that I can assure you. The message from him is to finish as strongly as we possibly can and that’s all we are thinking about.

“May is a bit of a lottery for us. We’ve got a really difficult group of matches in our last four or five games so the last thing we can afford to be is complacent.”

And it doesn’t get much tougher for Albion than Saturday’s live televised lunchtime clash at Manchester City.

The defending champions are back from Barcelona after being knocked out of the Champions League - their fourth defeat in the last five games - but will still start the game as hot favourites.

McAuley, however, says they will be facing an Albion side whose confidence has been fully repaired by last weekend’s impressive defeat of in-form Stoke City following the disappointing double-header at Villa Park.

He said:  “The Villa results were massively disappointing for us. It was the first time I had lost a West Midlands derby so it was a new experience for me. 

“We had a few days thinking about it building up to the Stoke match. Coming off the back of two defeats, had we not won last weekend it could have been difficult for us.

“From the moment he came in, this gaffer demanded hard work as the bare minimum. I think the clean sheets we have picked up since then were a key element – no matter how badly we were playing in games, if we didn’t concede goals we were in with a chance.

“There’s obviously been a couple of games which were not exactly thrillers but we’ve got something from them. 

“We had conceded a lot of goals from set plays and they are a massive part of the game these days.  I think a bit of height is an advantage in coping with that threat.”

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