After Albion’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester City, Brighton boss Chris Hughton reiterated what we’ve all known since day one – games against the top six are a challenge but it’s the games against the other 13 clubs in the Premier League that ultimately define a season.
October has arrived and due to international breaks the Albion only find themselves with three fixtures over the 31 days. But the nine points up for grabs will be extremely significant come the end of the season.
Home games against West Ham and Wolves, with a trip to Newcastle sandwiched in between, represent 270 minutes which will dictate the mood come the beginning of November.
Nine points out of nine is a big ask, but a minimum five from the three games is almost a prerequisite.
West Ham arrive for a live TV date on Friday evening, having found form after a dismal start to the Premier League campaign. Four straight defeats saw them rooted to the bottom of the table but the last three league outings has seen a return of seven points, including impressive victories against Everton and Manchester United.
Their points total puts them above the Albion in the table, something many wouldn’t have predicted a month ago. But it sets up yet another intriguing contest.
Naturally ability is a huge factor, there’s no doubting Hughton has put together the most talented squad in the club’s history, but belief is equally as important.
The slow starts we’ve seen at times this season simply can’t come into the equation on Friday night. The Albion must go at the Hammers from the outset, a confident start will lay the foundations for what would be an important victory.
A well worn phrase in the Albion vocabulary is “this game is the biggest since Hereford”. To be honest, while Hereford is an experience anyone who was lucky enough to be inside Edgar Street will never forget, pardon the cliche but with the money and footballing status on offer, the Albion now are in a whole new ball game.
Ultimately it’s the biggest game since last week, and equally as important, you don’t get relegated in October or as the result of one game. On the flip side, clearly every point contested for counts come the end of the season.
Ever the Albion optimist, I do believe we’re almost there this season, in getting it right on the pitch.
As with last season, when many saw the emphatic 3-0 Albion victory at the Olympic Stadium as one of the pivotal moments of the campaign, I believe the Albion will return to winning ways on Friday, with hopefully an impressive performance to boot.
Prediction time, a tight but exciting game seeing the Albion run out 2-0 winners.
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