Bryan Robson says his West Bromwich Albion side can emulate their 'Great Escape' of a year ago, even though he rates Birmingham City and Portsmouth as tougher than last season's relegation rivals.

Albion are on the same points mark of 28 as this time a year ago but are a position lower in 19th and have one match fewer to play.

But, whereas last season it was a case of perming any three from four to go down until the very final whistle, compared to two from three now, Robson believes that the essential difference is the quality of their rivals.

"I think Birmingham and Portsmouth are better than any of the ones down there with us a year ago," he said. "[Pompey manager] Harry Redknapp spent #11.5 million in January while Blues have a lot of good international players.

"So we've got to do better than we did in our last five games last season when we picked up only five points. I still think we're capable of doing that and the main thing is staying in touch. I want to get to the last two games still close to Blues and Pompey and then I wouldn't change our last two fixtures for theirs."

While much has been made of Portsmouth's easier run-in, they finish at Wigan Athletic, whose side contains two Fratton Park old boys in Arjan De Zeeuw and Jason Roberts, followed by a home game with Champions' League-chasing Liverpool.

Albion, by contrast, play two mid-table outfits, hosting West Ham United followed by a trip to Everton.

Blues are at home to Newcastle before ending their campaign at Uefa Cup challengers Bolton Wanderers.

As far as Robson's immediate test is concerned, Sunday's game with Arsenal, he is not expecting Arsene Wenger to leave out the Premiership's top scorer, Thierry Henry, as he did at Old Trafford last Sunday.

Robson said: "Arsenal have not had a good recent record against United. The Champions' League is a major influence for them, so I wasn't surprised he rested a couple. He'll have been thinking 'we've got Pompey and West Brom coming up and I'll save my full side for them'."