Clarke plays down previous Anfield wins
West Brom boss Steve Clarke insists the Baggies’ victories away to Liverpool in the last two seasons will have no relevance when they go there in search of a memorable hat trick on Saturday.
Until Roy Hodgson's side won 1-0 at Anfield two seasons ago, West Brom had not won there in any competition since 1967, in the heyday of match-winner Jeff Astle.
Goals by Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku then sealed a 2-0 success in 2012-13 and the club now travel with the boost of a five-match unbeaten Premier League run.
"It's a difficult game," Clarke said. "They are a different team to last season and have started this one well. They have dangerous players.
"The games from last season are good memories but no reference to what will happen this season, although we go with confidence after a good result at Manchester United."
In a week that has seen Sir Alex Ferguson has described Steve Gerrard as 'not a top player', Clarke -- formerly No. 2 to Kenny Dalglish on Merseyside -- has made it clear where he stands on the debate around the Anfield talisman.
"I worked with Steve Gerrard for 18 months, saw him close up and, for me, he's a top player," he added. "He's very, very good. He was always the best player on the training pitch and, nine times out of ten, the best on a match day.
"He looks after himself and works well. He's a top player and any manager who has been there has picked him."
Clarke this afternoon reacted with surprise to a suggestion that Nottingham Forest might be lining up a loan bid for Shane Long.
The Republic of Ireland striker, whose deadline-day move to Hull City dramatically fell through, has been unable to reach agreement with Albion over a contract extension. But his boss has rubbished suggestions of him dropping down a division in search of match practice.
"Shane won't go to a Championship club on loan," he said. "He is a Premier League player and has a big part to play with us.
"I can put people's mind at rest over the next nine months being his last here because there is another year's option after that.
"I would be disappointed if he wasn't frustrated and angry [at not playing more] but players have to channel those feelings in the right way and his performances when he has come in have been very good."
With Scott Sinclair still sidelined by the hamstring problem he suffered early in the win at Old Trafford four weeks ago, Clarke has an unchanged squad to select from.
Midfielders George Thorne and Zoltan Gera, both of whom have been long-term absentees, had slight setbacks when they played in an under-21 game on Monday and Boaz Myhill's fine form softens the blow of Ben Foster still being out with the ankle injury he picked up on the other side of Merseyside on the second Saturday of the campaign.