Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton says that his team’s defensive duo of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy are one of the best pairings in the division.
The Seagulls host Manchester City at the Amex Stadium this afternoon in their final game of the campaign, with Pep Guardiola’s men still favourites to win the title, and the Albion boss praised the efforts of the two defenders ahead of the contest.
He said, “I don’t think you’ll find many better central defensive partnerships than Lewis and Shane in the league, they’ve been excellent for us and have had to be – for a club of our level we know they’ll be periods of matches where we’ll have less possession – so we’ve needed them.
“Both players enjoy defending, the consistency of their performances out on the field is good too – they don’t miss many matches and that always helps.
“Generally, when you look at the best type of partnerships you can see that they’ve worked so well because the two players have spent a lot of time on the field together, it’s not just this season – they’ve had three seasons playing regularly together and I think they’ve benefited from that.”
The manager also spoke about the side’s recent upturn in form, and singled out aspects of some of the performances against three of the division’s top half sides in recent weeks as being things to focus on.
“We’ve had to be solid defensively in recent weeks – the Wolves result was pivotal, when you look back at tough periods in the season and you’re looking for moments which changed the flow of things then the draw at Molineux would be one of those,” he continued.
“We did very well at Tottenham a few days later and then at Arsenal last weekend - they’re the type of qualities which we will have to show again on Sunday afternoon.
“They will have more possession and will be relentless, I’m not embarrassed by the fact that we’ll have to defend well and for long periods - those performances which turned it in our favour are ones I’m hoping we can benefit from on Sunday.”
Pep Guardiola’s side head to the south coast this afternoon looking to make it back-to-back league titles having topped the table at the end of last term too, and Hughton reflected on the gripping race for the top spot that has changed hands 32 times this season.
“They’re a team and a set of individuals who are used to playing under that sort of pressure – but we’ve had our own type of pressure with the situations we’ve been in this season.
“Every game that both Manchester City and Liverpool have played over the last few weeks has carried some real pressure, they’ve found ways of getting results and they’ll be used to it.
“We want to end on a positive note in front of our home supporters – we acknowledge the fact that we’re playing against tough opposition, but we want to see the team give endeavour and everything to get a result with a committed performance.”