Brighton begin a crucial run of games in the Premier League at West Bromwich Albion tomorrow afternoon.
The Seagulls go into the clash at The Hawthorns having seen off arch rivals Crystal Palace in the Third Round of the FA Cup on Monday night. Dale Stephens' first goal of the season saw Albion lead at half time, however a long range strike from Bakary Sakho saw the Eagles draw level midway through the second half. Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club with three minutes remaining to set up a Fourth Round clash at Middlesbrough at the end of the month.
Having got a first win of the New Year under their belt, Chris Hughton's side will be looking to take that positive result into a period of six games that sees them take on five sides that currently sit below them. With only three points separating 12th placed Albion from the bottom three, they know how vital wins in these matches could be to maintaining their place in the top flight.
That run starts against a Baggies side who are on the longest win drought in the division. After winning their first two games of the campaign under Tony Pulis in August, they have failed to register a league victory in their last 20 league games, with their only win since then coming at League Two Exeter in the FA Cup last weekend. The former Stoke boss was sacked in November, with the appointment of Alan Pardew having yet to produce the turnaround in form they expected.
Despite their winless run, the West Midlands club have yet to fall by the wayside at the bottom end of the table thanks to grinding out the most draws in the league, having gained a point against the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal so far in the campaign. They sit four points away from safety in the relegation zone.
The last meeting between the sides saw Brighton earn their first win in the top flight since promotion at the Amex. Pascal Gross bagged a brace, with Tomer Hemed also finding the back of the net in the 3-1 victory at the start of September.
Albion go into the game with their midfield options depleted after the loss of Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown. The 21-year old suffered serious knee ligament damage early on in Monday's clash with Palace and will miss the rest of the campaign.
Having begun to regain fitness after back surgery, Steve Sidwell sufferred an ankle injury in training and could also be ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Speaking ahead of their trip to the Hawthorns, Hughton spoke about how vital games against sides like the Baggies will be to Premier League survival.
"I think that will always be the case.
"The most important results for us will be against the teams that are around us and that can affect us. What we know is that the top group of teams don't really affect us too much.
"There is a big group - that I think that group is getting bigger - that do affect us. I would see West Brom as part of that."