THEY may have come through a tough sequence of fixtures, having faced Manchester United and Liverpool away, and Chelsea at home in the past month, but it won’t get any easier for West Bromwich Albion this Saturday when they face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, manager Tony Mowbray has warned.
Albion have not won against the Potters in Stoke for 26 years and while Tony Pulis’ men may not have a Robbie Keane or a Nicholas Anelka, who have both scored braces against the Baggies in the last two fixtures, Mowbray is expecting another difficult encounter.
Albion and Stoke came up together automatically from the Championship but that is where the similarities end as both did so with contrasting styles.
But they will have one thing in common this weekend, an overwhelming desire for the three points as they strive to survive in the Premier League.
“They are in the Premier League with Premier League quality players, so it doesn’t come any easier,” Mowbray said.
“What they don’t have is an Anelka who when the chances come along can stick it in the net every time. But they have different strengths and we have to be aware of that. It will be a tough, tough game for us but I am sure they will know it will be a tough game for them as well.”
Mowbray said everyone shouldn’t be too downcast at having lost against quality sides like Chelsea and Liverpool in their last two fixtures, and he isn’t too concerned yet that Albion are bottom of the Premier League.
“We have just come through a really tough run of fixtures,” he said.
“Against Chelsea, I think in the context of how we played and who we played against I thought we were fine. I thought for long spells we were very competitive.
“It is nothing we should look too deeply into. While we don’t want to lose any games, losing at home to Chelsea is no embarrassment.
“The first half hour we were more than in the game and created probably the better chances. Ultimately, their quality told and they won the game.
“It was the same against Liverpool. Quality footballers can win games and on that day Robbie Keane scored two.
“Keane and Anelka are both £20 million plus strikers who have the clever brain and the clinical finishing to put you to the sword.
“Every team has quality players so it is difficult. We have Portsmouth in the next home game and they have Crouch and Defoe so let’s hope we aren’t talking about them scoring against us.
“The difference is that other clubs don’t have the quality all over the field. From right back to centre forward, Chelsea have quality in every position.
“They are all top international footballers and they move the ball quicker around the pitch as they move it from one top class player to the next. Top class players make the right decision in possession. While some teams have two or three or four top class players and the rest are part of the team.”