Brighton boss Chris Hughton feels Sunday’s showdown with former club Newcastle could well be settled by small margins.
The Magpies beat the Seagulls to last season’s Sky Bet Championship title and have so far held their own on their return to the top flight following three wins from the opening five Premier League matches.
A goal from defender Jamaal Lascelles proved enough to edge Newcastle’s past two games, beating Stoke 2-1 at home after a 1-0 win at Swansea.
Hughton, though, knows those encounters could also have seen a very different outcome for Rafael Benitez’s side, who started with back-to-back Premier League defeats.
“They are in good form at the moment with three wins and it just goes to show you the margins,” said Hughton, who guided Newcastle to promotion before being sacked in December 2010.
“They have a very good centre-half in Lascelles who scored two goals from set-plays – and that can change those margins.
“As a side and a way that they play, Newcastle are reasonably similar to ourselves and perhaps that is why they were close games last season.”
Hughton added at a press conference: “We are at home and we have to try and capitalise on our home form, but we know that we are up against a very good Newcastle side that are in good form.”
Despite suggestions of frustrations over not being able to bring in more new recruits during the summer transfer window, Hughton believes Spaniard Benitez has again proved his worth.
“Any team getting promotion to the Premier League and starting the season with nine points out of a possible 15 is a very good achievement, so certainly they have had a good start and continuity from last season,” the Brighton boss said.
“Rafa Benitez is a very good manager, very experienced and he will have gone through any situation that he has faced (so far in the Premier League this season).”