Brighton travel to Manchester United unbeaten in five Premier League matches but the Red Devils are one of the favourites for the title and Hughton says anything his side get from the game will be a bonus.
Albion’s boss said: “The pressure is off because of expectations. I am being realistic when I say the large majority of people in football would not expect us to get a result.
“In some ways, it’s not a bad starting position because it takes the pressure off the team. We know anything we can get will be a bonus but we’re going there in good form and have been a good team so far this season.
“What is important is you stay in the game because these are the type of games where if you don’t, then you can get beat big.
“So far we’ve fared well this season and we’ll have to play at a good-enough level to do so again.”
Stephen Robinson believes a shock Motherwell win over Celtic would be a good result for Scottish football.
The Fir Park boss also reckons his side haven’t been afforded the respect they deserved for their controversial Betfred Cup semi-final win over Rangers which had critics slamming their physical approach.
But Robinson is desperate to end Celtic ’s 64-game unbeaten domestic run and is adamant if the Lanarkshire men lift the trophy it would benefit the game.
He said: “Would a win be good for Scottish football? Yes, but I don’t think people like when we beat the big teams.
“We beat Rangers but nobody actually said we played well and had some good performances. It was just that we were very physical.
“We beat Aberdeen and nobody really talks about it. So I’m not sure people like us beating the big boys.
“People complain that there is no competition and then, when you go and beat them, they don’t particularly like it.
“We’re well aware that it’s going to be a very tough game but it certainly would enhance things. I’m sure a lot of the neutrals will want us to win.”
Robinson knows Motherwell will be well outnumbered at Hampden with Celtic supporters in the overwhelming majority but he’s convinced his club aren’t diminished in their desire to lift their first domestic trophy since their legendary Scottish Cup success of 1991.
He said: “I think it’s 90-10 split, isn’t it? It’s a neutral venue but, wherever we go, Celtic will bring more. Even at Fir Park, they probably bring as many fans as we have.
“On the day, that goes out the window. If we can silence the crowd, play it our way, play to our strengths, it would mean the world to our 10,000 people.
“To win this cup would mean as much to them as it would to 50,000 Celtic fans.”
Manchester United captain Michael Carrick is targeting a swift return to action after undergoing a procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm.
Carrick revealed he had felt something was wrong during his only outing of the season – a 4-1 EFL Cup victory over Burton in September – and underwent tests to determine the problem.
Having had a cardiac ablation to correct the problem, the 36-year-old says he is now “healthy” and focused on making his comeback for United.
He wrote in a statement posted on Twitter: “I just want to clear up my situation as I’ve had quite a few people asking if I’m OK and why I haven’t been fit over the last couple of months.
“After feeling strange during the second half of the Burton game in September I underwent a series of tests. It turned out to be an irregular heart rhythm which has been fully investigated and I had a procedure called a cardiac ablation.
“I had to build up training steadily while being monitored closely but I feel fine now.
“I would like to reassure everyone that I’m healthy and back training hard with the team. I’m building up my fitness and aiming to be back in contention for selection soon.”
The British Heart Foundation describes ablation as using either heat or freezing on the areas of the heart that cause an abnormal rhythm.
BHF adds on its website: “This treatment creates scar tissue which breaks abnormal circuits in the heart (and) destroys areas of the heart muscle which are triggering arrhythmias.”
Carrick has been a key presence at the centre of United’s midfield for over a decade, having joined from Tottenham in an £18million deal in the summer of 2006.
He has made more than 400 appearances for the Red Devils and his trophy haul includes five Premier League crowns and FA Cup and Champions League triumphs.
After he signed a one-year deal in May to extend his stay at Old Trafford until the end of this campaign, United manager Jose Mourinho labelled the veteran as “one of the true professionals of the game”.
Carrick made 38 appearances, including 18 Premier League starts, last season and was made club captain over the summer following the departure of Wayne Rooney to Everton.
“We wish Michael well and look forward to seeing him back on the pitch soon,” the club said.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has insisted he still trusts Alberto Moreno “100 per cent” after the left-back’s performance against Sevilla.
Having been 3-0 up at the break in Tuesday’s Champions League clash at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, the Reds conceded twice in the first 16 minutes of the second half en route to a 3-3 draw.
Moreno, playing against his former club, had a key role in the build-up to both of those goals, committing the fouls that resulted in the free-kick that was headed in by Wissam Ben Yedder and the subsequent penalty converted by the French forward.
Klopp, who took Moreno off shortly afterwards, spoke about the Spaniard yesterday ahead of today’s Premier League match against champions Chelsea.
And the manager was keen to stress his own responsibility for what had happened on Tuesday as he said “it is not the player to blame”.
Klopp said: “I had a talk, of course, to Alberto and I am really happy about his shape and his performances.
“Yes, in this game, it was obviously (difficult)… And that then is really my responsibility, that (we) could have done different things.
“Obviously it was difficult in Seville, with all the circumstances. Everybody was talking to him, like to a family member.
“He left there and a lot of people are still there that he knows well.
“It was this one, two, three per cent of concentration or whatever, you come a little bit too late, and that is how it started.
“My responsibility would have been think about the line-up, or change, or change earlier, or whatever.
“So that is how it is. It is not the player to blame. I am 100 per cent responsible for that. I told him I still trust him 100 per cent.”
Klopp said the way the goals were conceded against Sevilla “was quite special but it was not only a single player” and repeated his assessment from Tuesday that Liverpool made mistakes, were passive and “stopped playing football”.
The German, who has stressed that his players do not have a mentality problem, then added: “It will be a different game against Chelsea, especially at Anfield – and if we can create a special atmosphere, then it would help us.”
This evening’s contest will see in-form Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah – the Premier League’s top scorer this term – face his old club, for whom he struggled to make an impact.
Klopp does not feel Salah has a point to prove.
“He was very young in a very strong team and didn’t come through,” Klopp said.
“That happens very often. Another player with a similar situation was Kevin De Bruyne. Nobody is to blame, and for sure not Mo.
“I don’t think he has to prove something, and I don’t think he sees it like that.”
Brendan Rodgers has vowed his Celtic side will be ready for whatever Motherwell throw at them in the Betfred Cup final.
Rangers defender Bruno Alves claimed after losing to Motherwell in the semi-final that the Lanarkshire side had over-stepped the mark physically, although he was later banned for two games for kicking double goalscorer Louis Moult.
Rodgers raised concerns after Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman and Rangers defender Fabio Cardoso went unpunished for aerial challenges which caused injuries – the latter suffered a broken nose – and the Celtic boss discussed the game with the Scottish Referees’ Association.
But Rodgers believes his men will be prepared for the threat they face from Stephen Robinson’s side and match their determination.
“We are an aggressive team,” said Rodgers, who has fitness doubts over Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton.
“You want that level of commitment. You always want the officials to respect the laws of the game and make sure no player is in danger within the game, but you want the competitiveness and I’m sure that’s how it will be.
“And we have shown many times here playing in the league and the cups, we have played against many styles – aggressive styles, footballing teams, mixed teams – and the players have coped very well with it. When you go into any final you have to be ready mentally for whatever the opponent throws at you and that’s something that we will be prepared for.”
Robinson defended Bowman after Rodgers’s earlier comments and phoned his fellow Northern Irishman to address the situation.
“We spoke a few days after it,” the Celtic manager said. “It was a good conversation.
“Stephen has done brilliantly since he has gone in there. The players have great enthusiasm and have picked up some really good results. Stephen has them very well organised and they are very motivated. They play different systems and play them well.
“So we expect a very tough game but every domestic game we have had has been that in a different way and we have faced various styles. We look to bring our experience, our quality and certainly bring our level of game that we’ve played at Hampden on a nice, huge pitch, with three-quarters of the stadium full of Celtic supporters.
“We respect they are a team who will fight, who will run and they have a player up front who can score goals in Louis Moult.
“Some of his finishes have been fantastic. So it should be a really, really good game.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers brushed off criticism of his approach following Celtic’s 7-1 Champions League defeat at Paris St Germain on Wednesday.
“I have to be honest, I haven’t seen one word of it,” he said.
“I’m sure there will be plenty of critics after a scoreline like that but it’s not my worry.
“The more experienced and the older I get in management, I learn to listen less to what people will say and really just focus on what we are trying to do over the long term.
“The players gave absolutely everything and you must remember we were playing against a top-class opponent.
“Any half-chance they get, they score. We’ll look to improve and the culture we have created allows us to move on and look to win the next game.”
Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti is confident that in-form Argentinian striker Mauro Icardi could stay at the club for life.
Icardi reportedly remains a major target for some of Europe’s most powerful clubs with the likes of Real Madrid constantly being linked with the player.
Spanish outlet Marca reported earlier in this week that Madrid were looking at Icardi as a replacement for Karim Benzema.
“Who doesn’t want Icardi? If you ask me, everyone wants him,” Spalletti said at a press conference yesterday ahead of today’s trip to Cagliari.
“I see him totally in love with Inter. When I talk to him, I can sense it: the city, teammates, club, fans… he’s attached to them all in a very strong way. I’m extremely convinced that he could stay at Inter forever.”
Inter remain unbeaten after 13 games, with the side just two points behind Napoli in second place, with Spalletti pointing to an improved mental approach as a main reason for the team’s positive start to the season.
“Our results depend on the mentality that we’re applying to get results,” he explained.
“I’m happy with the team, but we still have room for growth. We’re unbeaten but we have to ask, why haven’t we always won?
“Gap between us and the big teams? For now, there isn’t one anymore, but we have to keep doing what’s been done already.
“Every time we play, we have to start afresh and show our quality on the pitch. We must play without respite, that’s become our motto.”