Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton says that his side need to be ready to rise to the challenges of the Premier League between now and the end of the campaign.
The Seagulls travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea tomorrow evening looking to pick up more top-flight points towards their total for survival, and the boss challenged his side to keep fighting for league returns between now and May.
He said, “At the moment it doesn’t feel any more pressurised than it has over the course of the campaign.
“We haven’t fluctuated too much in the league table from where we are now, and we are still a team which is developing – we’ll still have tough matches and periods to go through.
“We’ll still have spells where we won’t feel comfortable in the league, that’s just the way of the division. The cup run has been a bridge between a lot of the matches, but we know we didn’t play well enough last weekend.
“We’re amongst a group of teams who will be battling in every game between now and the end of the season, and if anything, we are going to have to fight even harder.”
Tomorrow night’s opponents picked up a last-gasp 2-1 win away to Cardiff City on Sunday afternoon, keeping the Bluebirds five points adrift of Albion heading into the next round of league fixtures, but Hughton emphasised the importance of keeping focused on his own side's results.
“It [Chelsea’s win] keeps the gap at five points, but our first priority is always on making sure that our results are good enough to not have to worry about the games involving others.
“That’s normal, as soon as a result is finished you want the others around you not to have picked up a point, but we’d always prefer it to be in our hands.
“Saturday was a close game with regards to chances, their goal was a good one, we didn’t reach the levels we know we can but it’s about dusting ourselves down and getting ready for Wednesday.”
One member of the opposition ranks in west London on Wednesday will be Eden Hazard, scorer in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at the Amex Stadium when the sides last met in the league back in the middle of December.
The manager singled out the Belgian as a danger ahead of the contest, and reflected on previous experiences against the midfielder.
“He’s a world-class player, which we’ve seen during the games that he’s played against us during our time so far in this division.
“He’s even improved in recent years, we’ve had examples of that and probably produced one of the single best performances by a player that we’ve seen at the Amex.
“We know they have many good quality players to pick from, but as an individual he’s someone who can win games for his team.”