Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton says that his side can take confidence from their performances against the Premier League's top six so far this campaign, ahead of Sunday’s game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The Seagulls travel back to north London 12 days after a narrow 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the capital, and the boss has encouraged his men to take the positives from the performance that evening.
He said, “In what’s been a very difficult season, we’ve improved our performances against the league’s top six sides.
“We’ve had a tough period in the latter part of the campaign – but we’ve made progress from last year against the division’s top sides – when I look at things like the number of goals we’ve conceded this year to last and so on.
“The aim for a club like ourselves is to get even closer to those teams when we play them, and that’s what we’re working so hard for – we’re on the back of a very good performance against Tottenham Hotspur in our last away game and we’ll certainly have to replicate a lot of the aspects from that evening.”
The manager was also keen to emphasise the importance of focusing on his side’s own fortunes across the penultimate weekend of the season, rather than the result of Cardiff City’s game at home to Crystal Palace a day earlier on Saturday evening.
“We’ve got two games to go – the only thing I can try to affect this weekend is our game at Arsenal on Sunday.” he continued.
“We can’t control anything else – we’ll hear the other results as normal, but we can only think of our own business. I probably won’t watch the game, because my focus has to be on us and our preparation for Sunday.
“The message from me is about how we can go into a very difficult game and try to get a result – it will be impossible for the lads to not know the result, some might want to know the score, so I can't do much about that, but I’ll be focusing on our own matters.”
Unai Emery’s men are Albion's final away opponents of the league campaign on Sunday, and Hughton highlighted the strengths of the Gunners ahead of the meeting.
“Arsenal have had a heavy schedule and they’ve had a lot of players who have played a lot of matches, but sometimes that can go either way – the continuity can work for you because they’re on the back of a very good result last night [Thursday] against Valencia.
“The feel of that can carry into Sunday, I don’t know if he’ll make changes but whatever team they play they’ll have some very good players and will provide us with strong opposition.
“In any game you have to look at areas which you can capitalise on – you’ll always do that, they’ve reminded everyone of the offensive qualities they have in recent times, especially when playing at home, and whatever changes he makes, if any, we know they’re very capable of scoring goals.”