Steve Clarke expects response from West Brom after recent stutter

The Baggies visit Arsenal tomorrow

Steve Clarke expects a positive response from West Brom after their mini-slump but insists what they achieve over an entire season is how success or failure should be judged.

The Baggies visit Arsenal tomorrow looking to bounce back from successive defeats against Swansea and Stoke after previously climbing to third spot in the Barclays Premier League.

It has led to critics questioning whether Albion have the credentials to sustain their flying start although Clarke is adamant there have been no idle boasts from within the squad.

Head coach Clarke said: "I'm not looking for a response, I'm expecting it because that's what they've done before.

"We've had two defeats before this season, then we lost two games in the space of four days last week.

"It is not a disaster in terms of the whole picture and what we are trying to do this season.

"It is the Premier League and it is a difficult place to win week in and week out.

"Even the top sides don't win every week. There is no reason to expect you should win every game.

"It's a league where you can have a run of difficult results. Our aim is to make sure we get back on a positive footing as soon as possible with a good performance at the Emirates this weekend."

Clarke added: "We've never said that we are a top-six side, we've never said anything about the team.

"All we've said is that we are a good, honest, hard-working bunch, we know we can compete in the Premier League and we try to do that every week.

"We haven't tried to pigeonhole ourselves at all.

"We are working towards the whole season - not a bunch of five or six fixtures. We work towards the points total for the whole season."

Clarke expects Albion to hold on to their key players during the January transfer window and is reluctant to comment on speculation regarding the future of any of his players.

He said: "I haven't got any thoughts on January. There is too much idle speculation goes around this time of year.

"People are allowed to link one player or this player with the club and it just goes around in a circle.

"If I give credence to every story that comes up, we would be here talking all day.

"As far as I'm concerned, January will take care of itself. I'm happy with the squad I've got. I'll have that squad in January.

"I might lose one or two (Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu) to the African Nations Cup but I'm happy with what I've got here to cover it.

"I don't think anyone is going to be leaving this club in January."

Arsenal have slipped to 10th spot in the Premier League and Clarke believes they are one of several teams who have not been as tight defensively this season.

He said: "I think they are a good team, they've got good players and an excellent manager.

"No team has got a god-given right to win matches. Arsenal have had a tricky run of late. I watched quite a lot of their recent performances because I need to know what they are about.

"Their performances have been okay but they haven't had the results.

"Arsenal are like a number of other clubs this year in that there have been a number of goals shipped in the Premier League.

"Defending now is not such a strong art as it used to be.

"Teams have changed, are a little bit more attack-minded, teams are playing for the wins and the games are a little bit more open.

"But most teams in the league now, they ship a few more goals than they would have done before."

PA

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