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Brighton & Hove Albion-Huddersfield Town Preview
The John Smith's Stadium will play host to two clubs who have far exceeded expectations in their first ever seasons in the Premier League.
Huddersfield Town (4-3-8) and Brighton & Hove Albion (4-5-6) both earned promotion to the top-flight last season and go into their meeting Saturday outside of the bottom three - a performance than many critics didn't see coming.
Brighton enter the weekend 12th in the table while Huddersfield are in 16th, but two points back of their fellow new boys.
However, Premier League safety remains a long way off for either side, and how they fare in the busy Christmas period will be central to their survival hopes.
This match heralds the start of a run of seven matches in 23 action-paced days. Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens knows that it's important for his side to keep their spirits up during such a busy spell.
"It's another big game for us and we've got plenty more matches between now and Christmas, so the thing we must do is dust ourselves down and keep going," Stephens said in the aftermath of last week's 5-1 defeat to Liverpool.
"It will be another tough game but we have to re-group this week now and then get ready for what will be a different challenge. We'll go there with confidence and see it as a good opportunity to get three points in what is a crucial stage of the season.
"It's been a busy season and it's what we've worked so hard for over the last two years - we're where we want to be in the Premier League and will keep working hard and picking up points."
Huddersfield also go into the match on the back of a disappointing result. In fact, David Wagner's side have lost four on the bounce while being outscored 13-1 during the slide. But the German coach says his team has the experience to deal with such a stretch.
"We have to be honest with ourselves; it isn't a surprise that this can happen in the Premier League," Wagner said, looking back at a run that his seen his team beaten by Everton, Arsenal, Manchester City and Bournemouth.
"We don't enjoy having a few defeats in a row, but on the other side we had the experience of less successful periods in the Championship, too, and we were always able to fight through it and bounce back."
The Terriers have injury concerns over Martin Cranie, Phillip Billing, Michael Hefele and Jon Stankovic, while Brighton's only major absentee is veteran midfielder Steve Sidwell.
Huddersfield ran out 3-1 winners when these teams met at the John Smith's Stadium in the Championship last season, and the Yorkshire side hasen't lost this fixture on their own patch in seven of the last eight seasons.
"We will be able to take some positive things from our last games against Brighton, but at the end of the day this is a new challenge, a new game and a new task for us," Wagner said. "We are very excited to play this game."
Updated December 7, 2017