Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton believes that the Emirates FA Cup is the best cup competition in football.
The Seagulls travel along the south coast to the Vitality Stadium to face AFC Bournemouth tomorrow afternoon, and the manager spoke glowingly of the famous trophy ahead of the contest with the Cherries.
He said, “We’re really looking forward to it – it’s a little bit of a respite from our league campaign – in some ways it’s different but it’s exciting.
“Our supporters and the club want to see us have a good cup run – we were given a hard draw away from home, but every game is an opportunity, our away form has been better recently, and hopefully we can go through and be in the draw for the next round.
“The run we had last year galvanised the squad and the city, it will always be a special occasion and I think it’s the best cup competition in the world, the excitement did us a favour last year and it can always add to your league campaign.”
The boss confirmed that Viktor Gyokeres would be in his squad for Saturday’s game, and also revealed that Jason Steele would start the game in goal when he met the media on Thursday afternoon, but he also revealed that he still had decisions to make regarding the rest of the squad.
“There’s a lot of choices that I haven’t made yet – it’s a game we want to win, and we know the levels we’ll have to reach against the opposition.
“Our performance level last time against them a few weeks ago in the league was good, and in the first half I thought we were the better side.
“But it was a close game – this is a cup competition we want to progress in, the good thing for me is that apart from Bernardo and Jose Izquierdo I have everybody fit and available.”
“Most clubs have a particular ground that they may have a good record at after a few recent results. Sometimes it just works that way – whenever there’s a stadium or club where you may not have won for a while then it’s another challenge.
“That’s what this weekend is for us, we want to make sure that we’re in the next round of the cup.”
The game away to West Ham United on Wednesday evening saw Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy find the net from two set-pieces in as many minutes in the capital – taking the total scored from dead ball situations to 16 for the campaign, but Hughton insisted that the emphasis on them hasn’t changed despite the improved recent record.
“We’ve always worked on our set plays and we do them before every game – we haven’t done any more than we did last season.
“Perhaps it’s repetition, but we’ve been far more successful at both ends of the field this campaign – we have two central defenders who have scored six goals between them and that’s a great and needed addition to what we already have.
“When you have defenders like us you want them scoring – Lewis [Dunk] had a very good record a few years ago, but to do it in the Premier League now is a major plus for the side.”