Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has challenged his players to deliver a performance against Chelsea tonight that will give him decisions to make for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup semi-final.
The Seagulls travel to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League this evening looking to bounce back from the weekend’s defeat to Southampton, and the boss wants his team to give him a selection headache ahead of the weekend.
He said, “I’d hope that players will use the game with Chelsea to perform to their best, because that will enable them to be able to stake a claim to feature at the weekend.
“Of course, at this moment all of our thoughts are on Wednesday evening, I haven’t spoken to the players about the cup game and I have no intention to do so yet.
“The drive and willingness to earn and keep a place in the side has to be there for every game, everybody should be pushing, and I hope I have tough decisions to make for the game after Chelsea, because I will have been happy with what I’ve seen from the game, regardless of the result.”
The side are in the process of contesting a busy month which will have seen them play seven matches in a 25-day period, and Hughton believes he can rely on the squad’s strength in depth over the next few weeks
“We’d rather be having a busy schedule at this moment in time because we’d rather still be in the cup competition,” he continued.
“It’s all about the balances that go with that, we’ve had players go away with their national sides too, but the workload hasn’t come into my thinking because we have good competition throughout the squad at the moment.
“It’s only Pascal [Gross] who we can’t select, at this moment my thoughts are one contest at a time - whether there will come a period where I feel as though a player needs rest then we’ll see, but that hasn’t been the case recently.”
Tonight’s opposition were narrow 2-1 winners over Cardiff City at the weekend thanks to late goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and the Albion manager stressed that his men could take aspects of the home side’s performance into their own this evening as they go in search of a result.
“You can take positives from the way Cardiff got at them [Chelsea] on Sunday, as well as looking at our improved performances against top six sides from earlier this season.
“In some ways the pressure is off us because people won’t be expecting us to get a result, and I hope we can use that - a win away to a top six side would be a breakthrough moment and a milestone, hopefully it’s one that would continue after that.
“Expectations are normal for their crowd – if they’re not playing well against us on Wednesday then their crowd will show that, what you saw on Sunday was some frustration from their fans, but generally supporters will always back their team.”