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SMITH: CITY CUP SCARES CAN INSPIRE ALBION

6 April 2019

Paul Hazlewood
Former Arsenal forward Alan Smith on commentary duty.

Sky Sports co-commentator Alan Smith urged Brighton & Hove Albion to take inspiration from Swansea City and Wigan Athletic’s performances against Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup, ahead of today’s semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

Wigan knocked City out of the competition last season, while the Swans came very close to reaching the final four this season at the expense of Pep Guardiola’s star-studded team.

Smith, who won the FA Cup with Arsenal in 1993, highlighted the quality of Saturday’s opponents, but backed the Seagulls to believe in themselves and stick to their game plan.

He said, “For Chris Hughton and his team, they have to go into the game with a positive frame of mind and believe they can achieve something.

“Just look at Swansea, if VAR had have been in use, Manchester City may not have reached the semi-finals. Wigan beat Manchester City last season, the eventual Premier League champions.

“Those are examples to look at — you can defy the odds if you catch them on an off-day and you’re at the races.

“Of course it’s difficult to go toe-to-toe with Manchester City, practically impossible, but it’s a case of staying in the game for as long as possible and nicking what you can.”

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City occupy top spot in the Premier League table ahead of this afternoon's cup clash, and Smith fully understands the quality at Guardiola’s disposal after analysing them on numerous occasions.

“I commentated on Manchester City at Fulham last Saturday and they’ve got such a richly-talented squad that Pep Guardiola can rotate. There doesn’t seem to be a shortfall in their performances.

“They picked up where they left off before the international break, but that’s not to say they’re unbeatable. If they take their eye off the ball, then you never know.

“They’re one of the best sides to have graced the Premier League in its history — they’re shaping up that way and the quadruple is on.

“It would be a huge shock, even though it’s two Premier League teams — that’s how good City are these days.”

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Smith has commentated on multiple Albion matches in the Premier League since winning promotion to the top flight, and the former England forward has been impressed by the club’s upward journey.

“When you look at the training ground and consider a few years ago the club didn’t have a home, never mind a training ground, the turnaround in the club’s fortunes is just amazing.

“It’s come through a lot of hard work, with the leadership of Tony Bloom and Chris Hughton as the manager. It’s a great success story and long may it continue.

“There’s still a relegation battle to think about, of course, that home defeat to Southampton was a damaging one, but once the game today is done, the team can concentrate on that.”


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