Friday 05 April 2013
On Saturday West Bromwich Albion host Arsenal in a match that could have a significant bearing in the race for fourth place in the Barcays Premier League table. Ahead of the match, premierleague.com caught up with former Albion and England striker Cyrille Regis, who told us why he believes the pressure is all on Arsene Wenger's men for this match.
"Losing Youssouf Mulumbu will be a big blow for the Albion. Arsenal are playing well and I think they’ve got Tottenham Hotspur in their sights"
Premierleague.com: What sort of match are you expecting to see on Saturday?
Cyrille Regis: Both teams play very good football so aesthetically it’s going to be very pleasing on the eye. I would expect a reaction from West Brom after their performance at West Ham, but losing Youssouf Mulumbu to suspension, who’s a crucial part of their team, will be a big blow for the Albion. Arsenal are playing well and I think they've got Tottenham Hotspur in their sights.
PL.com: They've won five of their last six and are gunning for fourth place. Do you think Arsene Wenger's side's need for a win is greater than West Bromwich Albion's?
CR: Absolutely, it’s about expectancy levels and West Brom have probably achieved theirs. At the start of the season their expectancy would have been to stay in the Barclays Premier League while Arsenal’s would have been to finish in the top four and get in the Champions League as they have done for the last 16 or 17 seasons.
They are looking a bit precarious with Tottenham and Chelsea hitting those spots but they’ve come on a good run. It’s the last few games now and they’re looking to get in the top four as they need to put pressure on the teams above them.
PL.com: What do you make of this Arsenal side - who do WBA need to watch out for?
CR: There are some good players there. Theo Walcott - I don't know whether he’ll be fit or not - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere; they are some good players and they are playing well. In terms of technical ability and game-nous they're very, very good. But they need that little bit of character in the make-up of the team in terms of the winning mentality to go through the pain barrier. They need to ask more from their team-mates.
"There’s no pressure on Albion - they’re not fighting relegation so the boys can be a bit more relaxed"
PL.com: What approach do WBA need to take against Wenger's side?
CR: I think they'll shuffle the pack. They might bring James Morrison or Chris Brunt back in midfield. The partnership between Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob has been immense - the mainstay of the side - so that's a miss but they are at home, which is always the platform for the Albion because they are very comfortable there.
It’s a nice stadium, and there’s no pressure on them; they’re not fighting relegation so the boys can be a bit more relaxed. But I think what Steve Clarke will be looking for is a reaction. He’ll be very disappointed about the result against West Ham. After losing 3-1 he’ll be saying, ‘OK, give me a reaction against Arsenal, one of the top clubs.'
PL.com: How do you think Steve Clarke has handled his first season in charge?
CR: Very well. The Albion board and Dan Ashworth have done very well in terms of acquiring the right managers these last five or six years, from Tony Mowbray through to Roberto Di Matteo, Roy Hodgson and now Steve Clarke. The philosophy doesn’t change, the financial parameters don’t change but they’ve managed to get their personnel changes right.
PL.com: Who has impressed you particularly for the Baggies this term?
CR: Most of the players have played consistently well. I don’t think anybody has been totally outstanding, but they’ve got the best out of the players. Shane Long has done well and Romelu Lukaku has impacted West Brom big time. He’s been excellent since he’s arrived, a real handful when he comes on. He frightens defences, he’s strong and powerful and I think he’s really enjoyed himself at West Brom. Hopefully, we can keep him for next year.
PL.com: When you played for the Baggies they finished third in the Old First Division in the 1978/79 season. Where do you think they will finish this term?
CR: The lowest common denominator for most teams in the Barclays Premier League is to stay in the division. Albion have done it very comfortably. At the beginning of the season there was talk of the side being as good as the one I played in in the last 1970s, when they were lying sixth or seventh and possibly looking towards Europe, but like most teams, the league position is about being consistent over a 10-month period and they’ve had a few ups and downs, so I think a top-10 finish will be great.
"The Barclays Premier League is a fantastic product around the world"
PL.com: There seem to be fewer powerful, traditional centre-forwards in the Cyrille Regis mould nowadays. Why do you think that is?
CR: The game’s changed. I watch a lot of games and a lot of players aren’t proficient at heading the ball like we used to be and also nowadays, especially in the Premier League, a lot of teams play 4-3-3 with only one up front and you’ve got four of five strikers vying for one place up front.
The onus now is more on passing and movement rather than crossing like we did in the old days. It’s about movement, keeping possession, balls down the side of players rather than getting it wide and crossing it in.
So do you think it’s shame?
CR: No, because the Barclays Premier League is a fantastic product. I went to the deepest, darkest part Ethiopia three or four years ago for Water Aid – a charity I’m an ambassador for – and there were kids there with Arsenal and Man United shirts on. They only had one television in the entire village and when there was a game on they’re all around it. The Barclays Premier League is a fantastic product around the world.
Cyrille also answered your Twitter questions. Click here to read his answers to your questions.
Cyrille Regis is an ambassador for Barclays' 'Don't pass it, ping it' campaign. Pingit is revolutionary technology developed by Barclays which allows people to transfer money to each other using their mobile phone. Users do not need to be a Barclays customer. For more info go to www.barclays.co.uk.