Steve Bruce makes shock Brighton admission ahead of Newcastle United visit

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce
Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has branded Brighton's visit to St James' Park as a 'cup final', despite being just five games into the new Premier League season.

Saturday's hosts slipped into the drop zone over the weekend after a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, while the Seagulls were left heartbroken after a late Jeff Hendrick equaliser for Burnley.

Just one-point separates the two sides in the table, and with both expected to feature largely in the relegation picture this season.

Indeed, Bruce is already talking up the significance of the game, even though there will still be 32 matches left to play after this weekend.

"They are the big games," insisted Bruce. "You look at anything you get off the top six now is a bit of a bonus.

"Five games in and it's already a bit of a cup final, but that is the beauty of the Premier League."

After taking over from Rafa Benitez in the summer, Bruce was dealt a tough start having already faced Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool in their opening five games.

From that run of fixtures, four points have been recorded, though hasn't prevented the Magpies from occupying an early relegation spot.

"We have played Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool in the first five. It was always going to be difficult but we have acquitted ourselves very well.

"If we keep applying ourselves like that then we will only get better."