Albion boss Steve Clarke today backed summer signing Nicolas Anelka to find his scoring touch after two missed chances cost the Baggies a potential victory against Arsenal.
The Baggies recorded an impressive 1-1 draw with the Premier League leaders but Anelka missed two glorious opportunities to put them 2-0 up before Jack Wilshere bagged the Gunners’ equaliser.
Clarke said: “Nicolas is an experienced striker and he knows he was in the right position. The first chance actually arrived a little bit behind him, which meant it was difficult to finish.
“For the second one he did almost everything right. He opened the goal up and just put it the wrong side of the post – we’re talking inches.
“On another day he could have scored both. Strikers need goals and ‘Nico’ is experienced enough to know if he keeps getting in those positions he’ll score goals.”
Anelka’s best chance, two minutes after half-time, was laid on by 20-year-old Saido Berahino, who was given his first Premier League start after scoring the winner in last weekend’s 2-1 victory at Manchester United.
And Clarke was impressed again by the England Under-21 international, who completed 90 minutes wide on the left.
“He was good,” said Clarke.
“Like I said last week when he came off the bench and did so well for us, no-one in the camp was very surprised because he’s been like that since the start of the season.
“Sometimes with a young player you have to decide whether to protect them a little bit.
“He’s had a lot of publicity and it was quite a big decision whether to start him or not.
“But he justified the selection.
“He was terrific again.
“It’s important we stay focused with Saido and we just keep him playing from game to game.
“He’ll go away now with England Under-21s and I’m sure he’ll do well for them.
“But for us it is important to protect him at the right times.”
Albion are now unbeaten in four league matches after collecting just one point from my first three.
Clarke said: “We’re certainly improving.
“Nobody here hid from the fact we started the season slowly.
“We did good business at the end of the transfer window.
“We brought in good players and that gave everyone within the club a lift.”