Manager Tony Mowbray has targeted Sunday’s home clash with Portsmouth as the fixture that could kick-start West Bromwich Albion’s season.
Albion are bidding to end a run of just one point from their last eight games which has sent them to the bottom of the table, and after a difficult sequence of fixtures, Mowbray believes the visit of a tired Pompey side that was in European action on Thursday night could be the opportunity to arrest the slide.
“I think home games in this division are really important,” Mowbray said. “I think we have just had a difficult run of games. The home game against Chelsea was thrown in amongst a host of away games, which gives you an unfair balance of how many defeats we have had.
“With total respect to Portsmouth, this is a game where we must target to be as positive as we can to get a victory.
“They are a very good side with four England internationals playing so it will be very tough but we are looking forward to it. I think football ultimately is about players and they have quality players like Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch, they have David James between the sticks and Glen Johnson at right back. They have some very good players and good players tend to win you football matches.
“It will be a tough ask for us but if you look at this league and apart from Manchester United and Chelsea, every home game you should be looking to get the three points.”
There is no mystery to why Albion find themselves in their current predicament. They have scored just 11 goals all season and should have won at the JJB Stadium against Wigan Athletic last Saturday but missed a host of excellent chances. In the end two costly mistakes late on gifted Wigan the victory.
“We need to score more goals and the team knows that,” Mowbray said. “We are creating chances. Last week the statistics showed we had something like 21 shots on their goal. Away from home in the Premier League that is a pretty good statistic for a team sitting bottom of the table. Yet we only scored one goal.
“We need to sharpen up at both ends of the field. Without being over critical of my team that is something we have talked about consistently for a few weeks now.
“Most of it is concentration at the back because we have some pretty good defenders, I believe, but lapses in concentration have cost us goals. We have lost the last two games in the 85th and 86th minutes and they were games we should have won. It isn’t just the defenders because if we had taken a decent percentage of our chances the games would have been over by then.”
Last week’s win – a second in a row – catapulted Wigan into the top half of the table and Mowbray knows that Albion could be in a similar position if they can get back on an unbeaten run.
“I think there is a dozen or so teams that will be involved around us and Portsmouth fall into that category,” he said.
“They have yet to catapult themselves up to be a top-six side regularly. They have the players capable of doing that, of course, so this weekend we have to be very positive, get on the front foot and try and take any advantage we might have from them playing away in midweek.
“Let’s see if we can get that points total going again, because we have seen from Wigan how close this league is and how back-to-back results can push you back up the table.”