THERE could be no place like home for West Bromwich Albion as they bid to claw their way out of the relegation mire, believes manager Tony Mowbray.
After three tough away games in their last four fixtures, Albion are now set for three home games in December and Mowbray believes their ability to pick up points at The Hawthorns could be vital in deciding their Premier League destiny.
Portsmouth are the visitors on Sunday, followed by Manchester City on December 21 and Tottenham Hotspur a week later. Albion also have the small matter of away trips to fellow relegation fighters Sunderland on December 13 and title challengers Chelsea on Boxing Day. Mowbray is viewing the visit of Pompey this week as a great opportunity for his side, who are four points adrift of safety, to get back in touch with the clubs around them, and believes picking up points between now and the turn of the year is vital if they are not to face a mountain to climb in 2009.
“It seems a long time since we played Blackburn Rovers at home,” Mowbray said.
“I know we have had Chelsea in between and for half an hour against them I thought we were pretty good. The crowd were right behind the side, as they were for the whole 90 minutes, despite the scoreline.
“We are looking forward to the Portsmouth game because it is a real opportunity for us to get a foothold back in the league and to start getting some points back on the table.
“We want to make sure we stay in touch with everyone to make sure it is an exciting second half of the season. We can win our home games along the way and make life difficult for teams away, as we have shown. We will pick up points on the road, I’m sure, but we need to make sure we stay in contention and put pressure on the teams in the six, seven or eight teams above us.
“The home games will be key. I think that is the case whatever league you are in. The promotion season and the season before, when we got to the play-off final, we won a lot of home games.
“In the Premier League you have to win your home games. It gives you a platform so if you have 19 home games you have to try and win seven or eight of them and then nick a couple away from home. Then you are up to 35 or 38 points.
“The key is to win games at home and Portsmouth is a game we have to target. We have had some hard luck stories at home this season so we have to keep believing we can win another five or six at home and after the performances in our last two away games I am pretty sure we can win some away from home as well. We have to keep believing and stay positive.”
In a move to reward the fans, who have drawn praise from Mowbray for the way they have supported his team during their recent poor run of results, Albion have reacted to the Government’s decision to cut VAT by 2.5 per cent by reducing ticket prices for the Hawthorns fixture with Sunderland on April 25.
The game has been downgraded from a Category A match to a Category B game, offering adult supporters who buy a match ticket for this game a saving of £15, while concessions can save £10.
Match tickets in all four stands for this Barclays Premier League game will now cost £25 adults, £15 seniors/under-18s/students and £10 for juniors under-16.