Brighton will have to be ‘lucky’ to beat Sheff Utd – Potter
Graham Potter has warned that Brighton cannot expect an easy ride from relegated Sheffield United as opposition players and staff will be fighting for their futures.
The Blades have endured a miserable season and remote hopes of Premier League survival were finally extinguished by last weekend’s loss at Wolves.
Albion are bidding to avoid joining the South Yorkshire side in dropping into the Sky Bet Championship and travel to Bramall Lane on Saturday evening sitting seven points above the bottom three.
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Seagulls boss Potter expects confirmation of United’s fate to have eased the burden on Paul Heckingbottom’s hosts and dismissed the prospect of being gifted a routine victory.
“They haven’t got that pressure or worry or whatever word you want to use in terms of staying in the league – probably they have felt that that has just been a thing waiting to happen,” said Potter.
“But when you look at them play, they’re still fighting, they’re still running, they’re still acting in a way that is a Premier League team.
“I am sure they will want to finish off as well as they can.
“All the players are playing for their futures, the coaching staff are doing the same.
“As individuals they will want to make a case to remain in the Premier League (with another club), or they could be a part of things going forward there.
“It’s the Premier League and nobody is going to give us three points.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them as a team and a club, so we have to be good, we have to be ready, we have to be lucky, all of those things.”
Potter was down on his luck in midweek, suffering a nasty facial injury while out walking with his wife at the beach.
Having secured a goalless draw at Chelsea on Tuesday evening, he required three stitches on his left cheek the following day after falling on to a metal railing.
Success in Sheffield would no doubt provide welcome relief for the 45-year-old, while lifting his side a substantial 10 points clear of danger with just five fixtures remaining.
“We’d like to get the job done as quickly as possible, but nothing is that straightforward,” he said.
“We certainly don’t disrespect anybody by saying ‘this is going to be easy game, let’s focus on this one’.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
The 16th-placed Seagulls have picked up 21 of their 34 points since the turn of the year, with that return significantly helped by eight clean sheets from their last 14 outings.
Only Manchester City, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Manchester United have secured more shutouts than Albion this term, with Potter delighted by the improved defensive solidity, spearheaded by captain Lewis Dunk.
“Defensively as a team we have been really good, there was a stage where we seemed to concede from not too much and at times we have been heavily punished, which can happen in this league,” he said.
“Generally the way we have defended has been really good.
“We have had good leadership in terms of Dunky at the back, but as a collective we have been really strong, credit to the squad for that.”
Defender Ben White will miss the weekend game through suspension following his red card at Stamford Bridge but forward Percy Tau could return to the squad following a tight hamstring.
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