Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton believes that the Fulham side his team will face at Craven Cottage tomorrow evening now pose a different threat to the one that visited the Amex Stadium in September.
The teams played out a 2-2 draw on the south coast when the Whites were managed by Slavisa Jokanovic, but Hughton highlighted the new style that Claudio Ranieri has implemented since arriving at the club in November.
He said, “Their form probably hasn’t been what they would have liked, given who they brought in during the summer, but that’s this division and the difficulties of the league.
“They performed well against Tottenham at home and probably should have got more from the game – they had some good chances and they didn’t look like a side who’ve had a difficult season.
“They’re a different side now in terms of style – the previous manager saw them be quite expansive and grew that way over a couple of years including promotion.
“Claudio has them a bit more focused on structure and keeping things tight – but around that they still have quality players – a bad period can change quickly and that’s what they’ll be hoping for.”
The Seagulls head to the banks of the Thames on the back of a narrow defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford in their last league game, and Hughton spoke positively about his side’s improved performances away from home this season.
“I think the levels that we’ve reached on the road this season are probably down to our growing experience of the division.
“It’s our second season and we’re learning all the time, perhaps it’s about mentality too but for us it’s still difficult away from home and that won’t change for us or teams of our level.
“I like to think we’re a bit more experienced. Fulham will see the game as one they can win, and there are some very tough matches for us coming up against sides around us.”
The manager also revealed on Monday morning that Maty Ryan would be back and available for selection, having returned to England following the conclusion of Australia’s Asian Cup campaign.
But Hughton stressed that he was yet to make a decision as to who would start in between the sticks for the Seagulls.
“I haven’t named the team yet, but these are the tough decisions that any manager has to make.
“David Button has come in and done really well, and he’s done everything we expected from him.
“Maty’s fit and fine – he trained on Sunday with Ben Roberts and he’ll train on Monday. He’s one of those players who’s used to travelling because of where he plays his international football, so it isn’t a new situation for us.
“He’s in very good shape, everyone will be desperate to play and at the moment I have a very competitive squad which is what you always want as a manager.”