It is the final Premier League weekend before the winter break as club football breaks up till mid-December for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. There are some tasty fixtures in the final game week before the break, with Brighton & Hove Albion welcoming Aston Villa to the Amex Stadium.
Brighton are finally paying off on the long game, playing a very attractive brand of football under manager Graham Potter early in the season, and have continued playing so even after his departure to Chelsea as new manager Roberto De Zerbi has wasted no time in imprinting his mark on the team. The Seagulls look like a very hard team to beat and it has been evident with their results and league position so far. Brighton have had a meteoric rise this season winning 6 of 13 league games and now sit 6th in the table, ahead of the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Seagulls were last in action against Arsenal in London in the Carabao Cup as Brighton earned a well-deserved 3-1 victory away from home to progress to the next round and knockout the current Premier League leaders from the competition. Manager Roberto De Zerbi insisted that his boys could play even better, and that he was aiming for a deep cup run with a brilliant set of players. They now turn their attention towards Aston Villa, as they make the trip to the South Coast.
A new era started for Aston Villa last Sunday as new manager Unai Emery took charge of his first game following the sacking of previous boss Steven Gerrard. The new reign got off to the perfect start as Villa defeated Manchester United 3-1 at home. Goals from Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey gave the Birmingham club a much needed 3 points, only their second win from the last 5 games. Their defence which has been brutally tested in the last few weeks held strong against a tricky United attack, and came home to get all three points.
However, they faced defeat again in their midweek Carabao Cup game against Man United, this time at Old Trafford. An action-packed second half saw six goals scored between both teams, as Aston Villa twice took the lead only to be pegged back on both occasions by the hosts. The Red Devils then pressed their foot on the gas and scored two more to take a 4-2 victory over the Villains and knock the visitors out of the Cup. Manager Unai Emery rotated his squad and said he learned more about the players. The Spaniard said he was not very happy with the performance and wants an improvement against Brighton on Sunday.
WHEN & WHERE?
Date: Sunday, 13th November 2022.
Time: 3.00 pm BST.
Venue: Amex Stadium, Brighton.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistants: Dan Cook, Dan Robathan.
Fourth official: Graham Scott.
VAR: Jarred Gillett.
Assistant VAR: James Mainwaring.
Brighton have a very strong squad available for the weekend game with the exception of Jakub Moder who is set to remain on the sidelines till February. The midfielder is recovering from a knee injury, and is expected to be out of action for some time.
Aston Villa will be without Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Diego Carlos with injuries and both are expected to return after the World Cup. Neither were selected for the Brazilian national team squad meaning they will get time to recover during the winter break.
Leander Dendoncker was unavailable for selection in the defeat at Old Trafford but should come straight back into the starting lineup having put up a solid display last weekend. John McGinn and Danny Ings both started at Old Trafford on Thursday night, but failed to impress and will be expected to return back to the bench on Sunday.
Of the Aston Villa players who have played more than 90 minutes so far in the Premier League this season, no one has a higher pass completion rate than Leander Dendoncker’s 88% 🎯
📊 – [@WhoScored] #avfc pic.twitter.com/2pkvgFVB0j
— Total Villa (@Total_Villa) November 8, 2022
After their struggles in front of goal in the past few seasons, no one expected them to do much better this season, especially after losing their striker Neal Maupay to Everton. However, Brighton proved the critics wrong and surprised everyone as they came out firing, starting with a 2-1 win over Man United at home.
Roberto De Zerbi arrived to replace Potter, and started slowly with only 2 point out of a possible 15. De Zerbi’s men came to life against their former manager Potter as he visited the Amex with Chelsea. What followed was a devastating drubbing as the Seagulls dominated to win 4-1. Since then, de Zerbi’s men have looked more confident and better on the ball. They have scored 10 goals in the last 3 games and finally look settled and back to the team we saw earlier in the season. That win over Arsenal in the midweek came even after 10 changes were made to the starting lineup, showcasing their depth and putting out a statement that the Seagulls could well be ready to play with the big boys.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, have gone through a tumultuous time. The Lions have a big squad filled with solid talented players, but under Steven Gerrard they never lived up to their potential. Emery has been in charge of the club for just two games, but Villa look like they mean business, and the Spaniard will hope that they can carry that momentum into the season ahead. The World Cup break will have come at a bad time for them as they look to take advantage of the new manager bounce.
Brighton have looked like an incredibly well-balanced and organized team so far this season. They like to play out from the back, playing short passes to play through the opposition press. Aston Villa are just settling into a new style with Unai Emery and the Seagulls will look to take advantage of that. They will hope to draw Villa’s press onto them and then play quick passes to split open the opposition defense. Emery will be wary of what De Zerbi can do, and Sunday provides an opportunity for two very good tacticians to go head-to-head.
The Japanese international has looked threatening every time he has played in a Brighton shirt, and over recent weeks he has burst into life as he settles into the Premier League. Mitoma produced a match winning performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend, and was decisive yet again coming off the bench in their win over Arsenal in the midweek. The 25-year-old gave the Seagulls the lead after a fantastic move culminated with a brilliant finish, curled in from the left side of the box. Mitoma has become a player to fear as his devilish trickery and pace leave defenders in two minds.
He can get away from opposition players with a quick turn of pace and his finishing skills are equally good, lifting that Brighton attack from the pain they suffered in the past couple of seasons. His battle with the Villa full-backs will be a very interesting one to watch.
Kaoru Mitoma’s last three games:
Finding his feet in England. 👣 pic.twitter.com/89uPS79Aft
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) November 9, 2022
Leon Bailey was a standout performer last weekend against Manchester United, starting upfront alongside Ollie Watkins. The two complemented each other well and Bailey got the first goal for Villa inside 8 minutes. He was on hand again in the midweek at Old Trafford, with some luck assisting the Jamaican this time, as his header was deflected into the goal by Dalot. He started on the bench in that tie, but his introduction in the second half was a much needed one as Villa looked starved of ideas upfront. Bailey will look to continue his good form on Sunday.
Brighton predicted XI vs Aston Villa: Robert Sanchez; Pascal Gross, Adam Webster, Lewis Dunk, Tariq Lamptey; Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister; Solly March, Adam Lallana, Kaoru Mitoma; Leandro Trossard.
Aston Villa Predicted XI vs Brighton: Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Lucas Digne; Leander Dendoncker, Douglas Luiz; Jacob Ramsey, Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey; Ollie Watkins.