The significance of successive matches at the Amex for Albion can be gleaned by the extremes of how the table could look in six days time.

By then, after hosting Bournemouth and Cardiff, the Seagulls might be on the brink of mathematical safety.

Eleven points clear of Cardiff with a game in hand and a far superior goal difference - with only 12 more points available to the Welshmen.

The reverse side of a finely balancd coin is a fall into the relegation zone, with trips to Wolves and Spurs to follow.

The latter possibility, albeit remote, should focus minds after the narrow exit from the semi-finals of the FA Cup against Manchester City at Wembley.

Chris Hughton wasted no time in pointing out to his players the need to repeat their levels against City following the lacklustre setback at home to Southampton and comprehensive defeat at Chelsea.

The Argus: Central defender Shane Duffy (above centre) said: "It's funny, the first thing manager said was you've got to take this performance on to Saturday.

"If we take bits from this game and put it together then we know we can go home and beat Bournemouth.

"That's the aim. We've got to take confidence because if we don't we shall get nowhere, so it's down to us to be positive and go at them."

Bournemouth, beaten at home by Burnley before Albion made City sweat at Wembley, can consider themselves safe on 38 points, despite a slump which has produced only one win in nine matches and a loss of identity according to Eddie Howe.

The same applies to Crystal Palace, a point higher, after winning at Newcastle.

The field to accompany Huddersfield and Fulham in the Championship next season has narrowed to five.

In Wales, Burnley and Albion are being regarded as the most plausible clubs for Cardiff to catch, not Southampton or Newcastle.

While the next two games are vital for Albion, they are even more so for Cardiff, confronting both of the teams they have most hope of overhauling.

Burnley have a horror run-in, including trips to Chelsea and Everton, along with home games against Manchester City and Arsenal.

Victory for Cardiff at Turf Moor on Saturday would leave Sean Dyche's side vulnerable.

Albion's remaining programme is tough as well, embracing visits to Spurs and Arsenal and finishing against Man City at the Amex on the final day.

Running Pep Guardiola's quardruple-chasers close at Wembley after going behind so early is a better way to approach the tasks ahead than a drubbing.

Duffy, whose second half header from a corner almost led to an equaliser, said: "It was a tough afternoon and difficult for all of us but we gave it go and left everything out there, and that's all we could have done.

"We didn't want to start like that and that was the worst scenario. We had to regroup and stick with it because if we went out all guns blazing it would have been maybe three or four, so we had to stick with it until half-time.

"We knew the longer we were in the game that we would get a chance. I thought we played well and stuck with it well but it just didn't drop for us."

Albion cannot afford to drop more than two points in the next two games if they want to banish lingering anxiety.

Duffy said: "It's huge. It is the most important thing. This (Wembley) has been a little bit of a distraction but I think the gaffer has been quite bold on the Premier League being the most important thing.

"It was a great day for everyone. Everybody has enjoyed the Cup run and it gives you more motivation to get back here again so it will give us more confidence for next season.

"But the bread and butter is the Premier League and we know these two games are coming up and it's a big week for us."

Matches That Matter

Friday: Leicester v Newcastle (8pm)

Saturday: Albion v Bournemouth (3pm), Burnley v Cardiff (3pm), Southampton v Wolves (3pm).