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Rafa targets repeat of Hammers display

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Rafa Benítez is hopeful that his side can match the attacking intensity they displayed against West Ham United last Saturday when Brighton & Hove Albion visit St. James’ Park tomorrow.

Henri Saivet, Mohamed Diamé and Christian Atsu were on target as the Magpies picked up a much-needed win at the London Stadium, enough to heave themselves out of the Premier League’s bottom three.

On Wednesday, they were beaten 1-0 by runaway leaders Manchester City on Tyneside, and despite seeing little of the ball, they almost snatched a late point through Dwight Gayle.

Benítez is anticipating a different sort of encounter altogether tomorrow, though, the first of three consecutive clashes against teams in the bottom half of the table.

“We want to win and we are confident we can win, but Brighton will be thinking exactly the same. Obviously it will be different, and we will try to score goals and play at the level we were playing against West Ham or the level we were playing when we were winning games in a row,” he said.

“These are the games that everybody is expecting you have to compete in and you have to win, but I’m sure the other teams will be thinking the same way. My concern is to be sure we can approach the game with the belief we can win, we compete, and if we win, my next press conference will be easier. If we cannot, I have to be sure the players don’t give up and we continue working until the end. The message is clear from day one and it has to be clear until the last day – we have to carry on pushing, working hard, and I think the reaction of the fans the other day (showed) they appreciated the players giving everything on the pitch.”

The Seagulls edged the last meeting between the two sides, running out 1-0 winners at the Amex Stadium in September thanks to Tomer Hemed’s goal.

Benítez is confident that lessons have been learnt from the manner of that defeat, and took a moment to pay tribute to Chris Hughton – one of his predesscors in the dugout at St. James’.

“I think he is a great person and a great manager. He is doing a great job,” the Spaniard said.

“We played against Brighton in the Championship and also the Premier League, so we know that they know what they do. They are quite good in terms of organisation, and also set-pieces. We lost the game against them with a block they did on the second ball in a free kick. We know they are very dangerous blocking at set-pieces. We will try to be aware of that and not get caught in a bad position like we were in the first game.”

"Obviously it will be different, and we will try to score goals and play at the level we were playing at against West Ham or the level we were playing when we were winning games in a row."

Rafa Benítez

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