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Nov 19, 2012

Odemwingie: Chelsea win was our 'best yet'

Peter Odemwingie has hailed West Bromwich Albion's victory over Chelsea as the best so far of what is turning into a memorable season at The Hawthorns.

• Blog: Money isn't everything

Odemwingie, 31, headed the winner against the European champions and FA Cup holders and paid particular credit to Shane Long, who hid from most of his team-mates the fact that he had to rush away at the end because his grandmother had died in Ireland in the preceding few hours.

Long made the decider for Odemwingie with a fine second-half cross, having netted his side's first goal and then lifted his striped jersey to reveal a 'Rest in Peace, Nan' message on his t-shirt.

"I didn't know that [about the bereavement] until I started my interviews," Odemwingie said. "I wondered why he was a bit quiet.

"After the match, we were celebrating with some music in the dressing room and he wasn't with us but I didn't want to ask what happened. I asked him, 'Are you not happy with the assist?' and he didn't tell me what happened.

"So now it is clear. He deserves all the respect for playing because it was a big game for us and an important moment and he was there working hard and he played very well. A lot of credit to him for that.

"It was the best three points. It maybe wasn't our best game but it was the best three points of the season because a good test came in the latter stages where we needed to take away all the doubts about our great start.

"We needed to show people against a big club that we have started well and we want to continue that way."

Odemwingie has become The Hawthorns' man of the moment and milked the euphoria by singing and dancing in front of the Birmingham Road End after Albion had sent Chelsea home empty-handed for the second time in eight months.

He scored both goals at home to Southampton a fortnight ago and has become recognised as a quality provider since also netting against Liverpool on the opening day.

Albion are now fourth and are in the best possible frame of mind as they begin preparations ahead of the trip to Sunderland this weekend.

"It definitely gives us great belief," he said. "Our results have already given us confidence and the belief is growing but we need to keep putting things in there to keep us confident.

"Shane was really good. I wouldn't say that I always saw him crossing balls nicely but this season he has crossed the ball perfectly and that's why I went in front of goal. When he had the ball, I knew he could do it again.

"I saw the ball coming right on to my head and I just had to connect with it. That showed again that I need to get across the box when Shane has the ball because he can come up with a good cross.

"I think we are all improving. Players look more ambitious and we're playing nice football and that makes our week go really well.

"You enjoy the hard work alongside the quality and, in games, you feel you are alongside players who have confidence that they are good."

Odemwingie, who has returned to favour following the criticism that came with his sending off at Fulham early in the season, has revealed that some of head coach Steve Clarke's most stirring words on Saturday were aimed at players not even figuring in his 18.

"Before the game, he made an extra comment on those who are not even on the bench," Odemwingie said. "He said he needs everyone because there will be consecutive games coming up.

"He said from the stand to the bench is not far and from the bench to the pitch isn't far. He has to manage that in a long season where we're hoping to achieve something. We need every player and that's what he said in his talk.

"It's normal that sometimes you ask questions [about not being selected] but, in the end, it is the result that matters and there are no questions because the result is there.

"I wanted to play after Southampton when I scored two. I wanted to start again and I didn't start [at Wigan] but we won, so what can I say? He is the manager and he decides what's best for the team and the club.

"This was a good time to win against a big club in November, to show that after we beat teams like Liverpool and got an away point against Tottenham, that we're still on that same upwards movement."

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