Ahead of Arsenal’s visit to the Amex Stadium on Boxing Day, Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton highlighted last season’s home victory over the Gunners as a breakthrough moment in his team’s debut Premier League campaign.
The Seagulls ended their wait for a victory over one of the league’s top six when goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray sealed all three points at the beginning of March.
Hughton reflected on Albion’s 2-1 success and felt it was an important moment for the confidence of the team, after a string of difficult matches against top-six sides.
He said, “Having won promotion the summer beforehand, one thing we were very conscious of was how difficult it is to play against the top six.
“It was a breakthrough for us. You look at pivotal moments in any season — one was getting our first win at the Amex, then our first away win and then our first win against a top-six team.
“We’d found it difficult — we played Manchester City on the first day of the season and that was a very tough game, and Chelsea was a difficult game as well.
“The Arsenal win was a fairly significant moment for us and one that we deserved.”
The Gunners make their second visit of 2018 on Boxing Day and Hughton assessed the impact new manager Unai Emery has had on the team since replacing Arsene Wenger this summer.
“If I look at what Arsenal are producing at this moment — to go on the unbeaten run that they did, under a new manager who’s still feeling his way in, I think that was excellent.
“Unai is a coach that’s prepared to change things early, he’s very enthusiastic. I’ve met him on a couple of occasions and my first impression was that Arsenal had made an excellent appointment.
“The main difference is that they’re pressing harder in certain areas, but I think he’s still looking to develop the team, seeing who the best players are in the best positions.
“You can only judge somebody by the start that they’ve made, and for me Arsenal have been excellent so far.”
After consecutive defeats to Burnley, Chelsea and AFC Bournemouth, the Seagulls will be hoping to produce another memorable display against Arsenal, and Hughton commented on his team’s testing schedule of late.
“When you’re Brighton in the Premier League, only in your second season, every period for us is a tricky period. Every game that we play is a difficult game.
“We’re going through a period of games in a short period of time, and we’ll have to play at a level to get something from the matches.
“For any tough period that you think you’re going through, it’s exactly the same for a huge number of other teams.
“We just need to make sure that we prepare ourselves in the best way we can and endeavour to get as many points as we can.”