Brighton vs Aston Villa– Pre-game Assessment

Sunday, May 5, 14:00 – Falmer Stadium

Referee: Robert Jones

The difference from one Premier League season to the next can be enormous for a team.  Take Brighton, for example.  A year ago, manager Roberto De Zerbi was being pegged as Pep Guardiola’s successor at Manchester City while owner Tony Bloom was able to bring a succession of brilliant players from overseas that would blossom under De Zerbi for a couple of years and then sold at a huge profit to the likes of Liverpool (Alexis Mac Allister) and Chelsea (Marc Cucurella and Moises Caicedo).

If not for Newcastle’s outstanding start to last season and Manchester United’s strong finish, Brighton could have been in the UEFA Champions League.  As it was, they finished 6th in 2022/2023 and qualified for the Europa League this season. 

At the start, they were able to continue their success based on high intensity and a high press to rattle opposition defenses into mistakes and goals for.  Unfortunately, they were unable to carry their positive “goal difference” ability with them.  A harbinger of things to come was their collapse at Villa Park in September when, despite having 62% of the possession, they allowed a hat-trick to our Ollie Watkins en route to a 6-1 loss.

The demanding game schedule resulted in physical stress and injuries, and key players went into the “unavailable” category (currently: Solly March, Evan Ferguson, Jack Hinshelwood, Pervis Estupinan, Kaoru Mitoma, Tariq Lamptey, James Milner, Jan Paul van Hecke).

Now, they find themselves in 11th place, behind Wolves and Bournemouth having lost four and tied two of their last six Premier League games.  According to De Zerbi, the team is playing for pride and for the fans, with little hope of moving up the table.

In other words, they should be a team that a clinical approach by our Villans should be able to dismantle.  Considering that our last away game was our 2-0 win at the Emirates to put a spoke in Arsenal’s drive to be Premier League champions, we should prevail.

However, our last two performances: a 2-2 tie with Chelsea in the Premier League and a somewhat shocking 4-2 loss to Olympiacos in the Europa Conference League, both at home, tell a different story.

The key determinant is Emery’s track-record of prevailing in such critical situations. The reaction of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn, after the game, to apologize for their own errors and to tell the fans “keep the faith” speaks volumes about the mindset that has come from the “gaffer”! While it is a stretch to suggest that the team will win their next two games, I, for one, would not be at all surprised.

The team sheet good news is that Zaniolo is expected to be able to make the bench as a very effective substitute, if needed.

Result Prediction:

Prediction:  Brighton 1, Aston Villa 2

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

Aston Villa: (4, 2, 3, 1) Olsen, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, Rogers, Diaby, Watkins

Subs: Marschall, Lenglet, Zaniolo, Iroegbunam, Chambers, Kesler-Hayden, Kellyman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *