Villa set their sights further up the Premier League table against struggling Brighton
Aston Villa to win 1-0
Last season, there were not many occasions whereby Aston Villa were the favourites to win a football match, surviving by the skin of their teeth on the final day.
So far this campaign, things are looking very much different for Dean Smith’s team, currently sitting in 6th place. Depending on how things go in the earlier Chelsea match, Villa could go top with a win.
That alone speaks volumes about the job Smith has done to turn things around at Villa, with the improvement of current players and the purchase of some terrific new ones.
Brighton have been harder to beat than other sides down near the bottom of the table, but they still sit in 16th with only one win to their name this season in the league.
They have scored more goals than those beneath them, which has helped keep them above the relegation places, but must start to improve their form before long.
Form Guide (all comps): WWLLW
Reasons to be cheerful:
Thrashing Arsenal was a huge confidence boost
Jack Grealish has impressed while on International duty
Reasons to be fearful:
Successive defeats to Leeds and Southampton showed weaknesses
International stars have played a lot of minutes recently
Villa are certainly flying at the moment.
Since the start of the season, they have thrashed champions Liverpool 7-2, and then saw off Arsenal by a slightly less impressive 3-0 just before the break.
Their new signings have slotted in like a dream, from Ollie Watkins firing in attack, to the likes of Martinez and Cash improving their defence.
Jack Grealish has certainly been the start of the show, of course. He is Villa’s best player, and looking like a star for England too when he started all three of their games last week.
He offers something different to a lot of players, in a sport nowadays dominated by quality technical players, he can also add an element of directness when running at the opposition.
Star Man – Jack Grealish
Five goals and as many assists already this season show that he is still Villa’s most important player
Form Guide (all comps): LDDLD
Reasons to be cheerful
Losing fewer matches than those beneath them
Scoring goals is not a problem for them
Reasons to be fearful
No wins for two months
Neal Maupay must have more support in attack
To go without a win in the league for over two months is a worrying statistic for Brighton to overcome, however the fact that those beneath them are facing even tough struggles will give them some confidence.
The Seagulls have picked up three points from their previous five matches which, while not great form, shows that they are tougher to play against than many give them credit for.
Their struggles are not necessarily going forward, but rather at the back. The return of captain Lewis Dunk from suspension should significantly improve this area.
It should not be all doom and gloom this weekend for Brighton. Aston Villa are far from the perfect side, as defeats against Leeds and Southampton showed.
Brighton must be positive and press high if they are to get something from the game
Star Man – Neal Maupay
Has four goals in his last seven matches, but greatly needs support from other members of his team in front of goal
This should be an interesting battle between teams in contrasting form
Grealish is the form player, but has he played too much football?
Villa could go top depending on other results
A bad result here will not mean that Villa miss out on European football, nor will it mean that Brighton will be relegated.
However, both teams will want to begin the next phase of the season in a positive mindset and by putting three points on the board.
Judging on recent form, Villa have the best chance of doing so, but playing Brighton could ironically be more challenging than facing Arsenal, especially as the Seagulls are so desperate for points.
Aston Villa to win 1-0