Aston Villa vs Brighton Hove Albion – Pre-game Assessment

Saturday, Sep. 30, 12:30 pm – Villa Park, Referee: Andy Madley

The saying “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much” came to mind when Premier League managers of in-form teams explained away their stumbles in the third round of the Carabao Cup.  Was it a coincidence that Man City, Brighton, and our Villans failed in similar ways and the managers protested their commitment to the competition with a “but”.  Of course, every game is a “must win”, especially when fans pay good money.  However, the Premier League games take precedence and Haaland, Evan Ferguson, and Digne needed to be rested amongst others.

The impact was obvious for our Saturday opponents, Brighton’s Seagulls.  Sitting in 3rd place with five wins from six games, their two P.L. away games netted them seven goals.  At Old Trafford, they embarrassed Man U by dominating possession (57%) and pass accuracy (91%) and were able to put 10 of their shots on goal out of a total of 12.  Against Chelsea on Wednesday, they were only able to direct 2 on target out of 13 taken.  It was no surprise that they came away empty-handed.

Not only does Brighton arrive at Villa Park with a recent defeat on their minds, they will also retain the memory of our Villans doing the double over them last season with the identical scores of 2-1.  Those reminders will motivate them to do better but will impinge on the team’s confidence.

Our Villans, meanwhile, will have a similar mindset regarding their Wednesday game – the 2-1 Carabao Cup loss at home to Everton.  However, they should have an easier time regaining their swagger thanks to their fans who know how important their contribution is.

Line-up wise, the presence of a fit and in-form Emi Martinez in goal is a big boost (Olsen’s error against Everton gifted the opening goal).  Chelsea would have likely scored at least one goal against any other goalie in the Premier League last Sunday.

While, not perfect in our distribution from the back last week, there was definite improvement and, by being able to send out the same formation, it should improve again against Brighton.  Where Brighton has an edge is in the strength of their bench.  The unavailability of Bailey (injured against Everton) and the questionable status of the other recovering Villans (Ramsey, Moreno, and Carlos) shines a spotlight on the other substitutes that have been slow to get to Premier League full-game effectiveness (Traore, Duran, Tielemans, and Dendoncker). 

Emery has been candid is discussing the challenge he has in getting his sub-par performers enough minutes in games while continuing to win games.  Every manager has a similar problem only Villa’s seems more difficult than most.  Having Ramsey able to help off the bench this weekend would be a huge assistance.

Another boost that our Villans will carry into the game will be the relief that Ollie is back in the scoring groove.  That he and/or Diaby will score against Brighton is very likely.  We will miss Bailey’s ability to find the net, but our midfielders have lots of scoring ability between them.  The combination suggests that we’ll score a couple of goals.

Keeping Brighton to one goal, or less, is something that only West Ham have done in their Premier League games this season, but even that reference is scary.  The Hammers had to withstand giving up 78% of the possession and being barraged by 25 shots of which 10 were on-target.  The Hammers 3-1 win over the Seagulls was something of an aberration, especially being played at Brighton’s Amex stadium, something Brighton immediately corrected beating Newcastle (3-1) comfortably at home the following week.

In other words, as Emery noted, our Villans have to do everything well: not make mistakes, press well, be incisive, finish clinically, and maintain the energy level for the full 90 minutes.  Easily said and very hard to achieve.

Result Prediction:

Thanks to the fans and the proof that they can come from behind, I think our Villans can do it again.  Prediction:  Aston Villa 2, Brighton 1.

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

We predict the Villa line-up will be the same as last weekend’s starting line-up with, hopefully, Ramsey able to come off the bench if needed.

Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn, Zaniolo, Diaby, Watkins

Subs: Moreno, Olsen, Ramsey, Traore, Duran, Tielemans, Dendoncker, Chambers

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