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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

No emotional return against Boro, says Mowbray

Tony Mowbray has played down the significance of his return to Middlesbrough this weekend with the West Bromwich Albion manager insisting three points rather than sentiment is the main priority.

Mowbray was regarded as a legend during his 10-season spell at Boro as a defender starting in the early 1980s - the club he also supported as a boy.

But the ex-Hibernian boss is more concerned with his side returning to the winning trail after the home defeat by Aston Villa last weekend courtesy of some dreadful defending.

Mowbray said: "I was born just outside of Middlesbrough and I have followed them all of my life.

"It is the club closest to my heart and I was at Boro for 10 years as a player.

"But that was a long time ago - in the mists of time really - and it is a hugely different club now from when I was there.

"We were based at Ayresome Park then and I never played at the Riverside Stadium.

"It isn't a game I relish more than the last Premier League game. It is another game where there is an opportunity to get three points and they all feel the same.

"I don't go back and get excited because it is Middlesbrough. There is no connection between the side and the team I played for other than the people following the club probably.

"I just hope it is me that is happy at the end of the game because we have got the three points - and they haven't."

Mowbray has been encouraged by the general nature of Albion's performances since their return to the top flight but knows they have to sharpen up their defending.

"I don't think there was a huge gulf there. It was two teams having a go and our defending let us down a bit.

"The bottom line is, if you are going to defend like that, you are going to lose games. Teams haven't had to work that hard to score against us.

"We played Arsenal at the Emirates and there wasn't a lot between the teams after the first 20 minutes. Against Everton, who finished fifth last year, for long spells we were the better side.

"But the Premier League is pretty brutal and people aren't interested in the performances, only the results."

Mowbray will be forced to make at least one change from the starting line-up against Villa with winger Chris Brunt sidelined with the hamstring injury suffered during the first half.

Defender Abdoulaye Meite is also ruled out with the recurrence of the calf injury sustained in the warm-up which led to a late recall for Leon Barnett.

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