Albion are about to enter a critical phase of their second season in the Premier League.

They have a run of games which will define the extent to which safety is in jeopardy after Saturday's test at champions Manchester City.

Ahead of the trip to Etihad, Chris Hughton's side are just below the points tally fans could realistically have wished for after six games.

They are 13th with five points, despite a tough start. By Saturday they will have played all of last season's top four.

Compare that to some of the teams below them. Southampton (below) have played only Liverpool, Fulham just Spurs and Manchester City.

The Argus: Burnley have met only Manchester United, Huddersfield just Chelsea and Man City.

Cardiff, West Ham and Newcastle are the others currently beneath Albion who can justifiably point to a skewed fixture list contributing to their plight.

Cardiff have faced, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City, the Hammers have encountered Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Seven games in, Newcastle's start will nearly be as comparable in severity as Albion's. They have already played Spurs, Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

The Argus: Three points for the Seagulls from the games against Man United (above), Liverpool and Spurs is more than acceptable, courtesy of that victory over Jose Mourinho's men at the Amex.

So is a -1 goal difference across those games, which could become significant deeper into the season.

Where Albion have fallen short is taking two points from Watford, Fulham and Southampton.

The opening defeat at Watford has increased in respectability, considering Watford are in the top four.

A point at Southampton was acceptable, especially from 2-0 down.

A point at home to Fulham was not, even though that was also attained from a 2-0 deficit.

The failure to beat one of the promoted trio at the Amex is the reason why Albion are not level with their tally at the corresponding stage last season, when Man City were the lone top six club they had tackled.

In the sequence of fixtures that follow Saturday's trip to Pep Guardiola's title winners, Albion entertain West Ham, Wolves, Leicester and Crystal Palace.

They also have far more realistic opportunities to improve on their away record against Newcastle, Everton, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Burnley.

By then, early December, they will nearly have reached the halfway stage and the table will have taken more meaningful shape.

Another difficult period, not unlike the one Albion are experiencing now, comes afterwards.

Chelsea and Arsenal in the space of three games, Liverpool and Manchester United in the next four matches after that.

This places even more emphasis on the points haul in the post-Pep period straddling the next two international breaks.

Injuries are already hitting Albion harder than last season, with Lewis Dunk, Pascal Gross and Dale Stephens (below) early casualties.

The Argus: Hughton could do with luck being on his side in this respect for those key matches.

Albion and the rest of the teams that can realistically be regarded as relegation candidates will benefit from only needing to find only other other rival to finish above.

Even at such an early juncture, Cardiff and Huddersfield have a doomed look about them. It is difficult to see either of those clubs staying up.

Games eight to 16 will play a massive part in Albion's prospects of finishing 17th or higher.