Aston Villa relegation would hurt West Brom, says Clarke

The Baggies boss believes a strong showing from the Midlands-based club is beneficial to his squad's focus during the season, and hopes to beat Wigan to aid the Villans
West Brom manager Steve Clarke hopes Aston Villa avoid relegation from the Premier League as the local rivalry benefits his club.

Paul Lambert’s side currently lie in 17th place in England’s top flight, five points above the bottom three with three games left to play.

West Brom host 18th-placed Wigan on Saturday knowing a win will hugely benefit Villa, and Clarke has made no secret of his plan to aid Baggies’ rivals.

18/1 West Brom are 18/1 with Coral to beat Wigan 3-1 on Saturday
"I would like to see the Midlands stronger," Clarke told the club’s official website. "It’s important that you have good competition from the clubs around you.

"If you have that competition it’s healthy around the area; it’s better for the Midlands that they have more successful teams.

"I would miss Villa. It’s important that they finish the season strongly. It’s important to have your rivals breathing down your neck."

West Brom’s 3-0 win over Southampton saw Clarke’s side secure a finish above Villa for the second consecutive season, and the manager - who registered a record top-flight points haul with Saturday’s victory - is delighted at his squad’s performance this term.

"You see how much it means to the supporters – they want to be the top dogs," Clarke continued.

"But you want to be the top dogs because you've beaten your nearest rivals or you’ve finished higher than them in the same league - that’s important."