Steely confidence and a forensic gameplan: how we prepared to beat Arsenal

first_imgblogposts The gaffer came in and asked for a bit of calm before telling us we were all expected in the next morning. There was no moaning or argument and it didn’t even dampen our spirits. We all know and believe that it’s the boss’s job to make those decisions based on what’s best for the team and, if you don’t trust in that authority, then usually it will end in tears. Chris Hughton is a man with a plan and, for those who may have doubted his ability to get us to perform in our first season in the Premier League, I’d ask you to have a look at the table.My guess is there weren’t many who’d have predicted we’d be in 10th place with nine games remaining but our manager is someone who has a very strong sense of how he wants us to play, as well as a talent for organisation and process which we have built our success on during the two and a half years he’s been in charge. It would have been the easy (and popular) choice to give us time off after Sunday but his decision was a way of keeping us all grounded. We’re not safe yet but what we have done in the last few weeks and months is give ourselves a great chance of playing at the top level next season.Most of the reports and coverage after last weekend predictably focused on Arsenal’s poor run of results and the pressure it’s putting on their manager. I understand that a big club in a bad way will always be the story rather than a smaller one achieving a remarkable result and that’s what it was if you take into account that only three of our squad – me, Glenn Murray and Steve Sidwell – had any experience of playing in the Premier League before the season started but victories such as that don’t happen by chance.The worst thing we could have done was assume Arsenal were underperforming and so were there for the taking, and what our manager did leading up to the game was capitalise on the surge in confidence in our group and supplement it with a forensic gameplan aimed at exploiting their weaknesses and stumbling self-belief. We knew they were vulnerable from set pieces and so we practised our plays over and over, including a couple of new routines, and the result was that we had five great chances from dead-ball situations in the first half-hour of the game.That further rattles your opponent, so when we scored twice in the opening half there wasn’t any great surprise among our players and staff. In fact, before the game I’ve rarely seen the dressing room so calm. Usually there’s quite a lot of noise – music and shouting and adrenaline pumping – but on Sunday I felt a quiet and steely confidence throughout our team. We knew we had the gameplan and players to cause Arsenal problems and that’s exactly what we did.Training this week has been great and it’s obvious the momentum of the last few games has made a positive impact on our group and our expectation at what lies ahead. There are not many of us who have experienced a win against a team such as Arsenal and the psychological boost that gives to individual players cannot be underestimated. On Saturday we face an Everton side who will be desperate to beat us but another big game is probably the perfect opportunity for us given how everyone is feeling and the confidence we have.In the reverse fixture at the Amex in October we conceded a late penalty in a game which we felt we should have seen out and won. Since then, Sam Allardyce has taken over at Goodison Park and they have augmented their squad in the last transfer window. Once again we know we’re in for a very difficult match and it will be intriguing to see two managers from Britain and Ireland go head-to-head as both clubs fight to be safe from relegation.The stability and vision which have been key to Brighton’s promotion and development are engendered in our manager’s application and football philosophy, and it’s my belief the club will continue to thrive rather than just survive as a result. In the meantime hopefully we can get a positive result against Everton and then see what the gaffer has planned in terms of a bit of time off. Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest Topics Sportblog Arsenal Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Read more Brighton & Hove Albion Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Arsenal crash at Brighton to pile more pressure on Arsène Wenger Share on WhatsApp You might think when a team such as Brighton & Hove Albion record a historic victory over Arsenal the way we celebrate would include a few drinks and a lot of noise but nothing could be further from the truth. We were jubilant in the dressing room after our 2-1 win against Arsène Wenger’s side on Sunday but, rather than champagne and plaudits, all the lads wanted was a couple of days off. The manager had given us just that after our crucial victory over Swansea last month and so the chant went up in the hope of a repeat. Reuse this contentlast_img