Filed: Thursday, 24th April 2014
By: Staff Writer
West Brom manager Pepe Mel says that this weekend's clash with West Ham United is his team's biggest match of the season so far.
Albion's 51-year-old Spanish manager has been in charge at the Hawthorns since January, since when they have failed to pull away from the relegation zone having won just two out of 14 Premier League games.
With 33 points, West Brom are currently just three points above the drop zone with trips to Arsenal and Sunderland to follow before their final game of the campaign at home to Stoke. And that, says Mel, is why it is essential they get something out of this weekend's game.
"It really is the most important game; itís a Cup Final," he said. "It can be the game that can spur us on and give us that life. I hope the stadium will be full and the fans will be with us. They can really help us in this game, which is an absolutely vital one."
Mel, whose own future is very much up in the air will have to do without key defender and former Hammer Liam Ridgewell, who limped off during the defeat at Manchester City earlier in the week with a knee problem, on Saturday.
That could leave winger Chris Brunt being employed as an emergency full back - although Mel appeared to have few qualms about making such a change.
"Iím certain that Ridgewell will not be available for the West Ham game, so Brunt is a good option," said Mel. "He can do a really good job in this role. I select the best players for each particular game and therefore the best option is Chris Brunt.
Meanwhile Albion's Jonas Olsson, who is set to play alongside Brunt in the centre of defence described the game as 'massive'. "We need to get over that line sooner rather than later," he said. "And why not on Saturday?
"We will focus totally on that and get ready for it. Of course it will be a different game to Man City but we will have time to prepare and make sure weíre ready. We have to focus all our energy on Saturday because thatís going to be massive."
Key to the Baggies' chances, according to the Swedish international, will be stopping West Ham's Andy Carroll. "He is a test," admitted the 31-year-old. "Heís a really good player and it always seems to be a physical battle between us.
"I like that and Iím sure he likes it as well; I am looking forward to it."
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