Baggies braced for Old Trafford test tomorrow
GARETH McAuley is relishing the challenge of Albion’s run-in and insists confidence is high heading into the final four fixtures – starting against Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow (5.30pm ko).
The Baggies have recovered from back-to-back home defeats against QPR and Leicester by claiming an impressive 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and holding Liverpool to a goalless draw last weekend.
United are up next for Tony Pulis’ side before a trip to Newcastle, runaway leaders Chelsea at home and then FA Cup finalists Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on the final day.
Centre-back McAuley insists 13th-placed Albion cannot take Barclays Premier League safety for granted and will be pushing hard over the last four games to get as many points as possible.
“There’s pressure there, pressure we’re putting on ourselves to finish the season on a high, we’ve obviously got tough games ahead of us but there’s a belief we can get points from them,” McAuley said.
“It was a great point against Liverpool, hard fought, we battled well and defended as a team – as we knew we would have to do.
“We need to get points from teams like that because we’ve got the big teams still to play in the closing games.”
McAuley added: “Football is strange, we lost to QPR and Leicester and then we’ve played in-form Crystal Palace and Liverpool and taken four points.
“People might have expected that to be the other way around. It’s strange football, you get results when you don’t expect it.
“One thing about the Premier League is that results and points are getting harder and harder to get as the teams are getting more and more competitive.
“The Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal games – they’re all massive games, hard games, but they’re games we’re relishing and can be confident going in to.”
The Throstles head to Old Trafford on the back of just one defeat in their previous four meetings.
The memorable 5-5 draw on the final day of the 2012/13 season was followed up by a 2-1 away triumph last season – Albion’s first victory at Old Trafford since 1978.
Meanwhile, the two clubs shared a 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns earlier this term, United salvaging a point with an 87th-minute equaliser.
McAuley said: “You get confidence and belief from previous results although I think they’re probably a different side now to what they were when we played them before.
“But we go there confident. No-one’s expecting us to win apart from ourselves and probably our own fans.
“We’ve managed to win at Old Trafford before but it’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to be resilient and at our best to get anything from the game, but that’s the challenge of the Premier League and a challenge we relish.”