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West Brom boss Mowbray issues clarion call

West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray has challenged his players to stand up and be counted against Stoke City in Saturday's crucial Premier League showdown at The Hawthorns.

It will be a real clash of styles with Albion's 'total football' approach up against the more direct play of Stoke.

At the start of the season, it was widely thought that Albion's approach would secure them Premier League survival and Stoke would struggle to adapt after both teams were promoted last term.

But Albion are bottom of the table and eight points behind Stoke who are on course to defy the critics and survive in the top flight.

Victory is vital for Albion to keep their survival hopes alive and Mowbray said: ''I can imagine that it will be a similar sort of game to that we played a fortnight ago against Bolton.

''Football is all about margins and Stoke will ask a lot of questions of us. If we can defend our box well enough then we will give ourselves a chance. When you analyse their record they have done exceptionally well at home and deserve a lot of credit.

''They have not been so successful on the road and we have to make sure it continues this weekend.''

The footballing philosophies of Mowbray and Stoke boss Tony Pulis are markedly different.

But Mowbray added: ''I do not profess to have any public opinion on anyone's style of play unless I have a positive spin on it. They beat us 1-0 earlier in the season and afterwards I said it was a very poor match. Yet they won and you have to take it on the chin.

''Before the match it is a racing certainty that we will have more of the ball than they will have. Ultimately we will all be judged by the result at the end of the day. So let's look forward to the challenge.

''Tony Pulis is fully aware of how he plays the game. I have every respect for it as they have more points than us doing what they do. It will be a good game because of the contrasting styles of the two teams. It is good watching an expansive team playing a counter-attacking team.

''I have had a look at Stoke's fixtures and they appear to have a decent run-in at home against teams they can be expected to grind out a few victories.

''Now we want to make amends for the 1-0 defeat we suffered against them at the Britannia Stadium earlier in the season.

''We are playing against a team that is also fighting for its life and scrapping for points. They will not make it easy for us. It will be a tough, tough game and we know what we need to do.''

History is not on Albion's side. Stoke really are their bogey team as Albion have only beaten them once in the last 26 league meetings between the sides.

Mowbray is set to retain the side that started Albion's last game against Bolton Wanderers.

Central defender Abdoulaye Meite is fit again after a hamstring strain and illness, but he will have to settle for a place on the bench with Jonas Olsson and Shelton Martis continuing at the centre of defence.


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