Aston Villa vs Brighton: Leandro Trossard tactical tweak as Albion look to unlock Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa
The international break might be just what Brighton needed. Having won four of their first five Premier League games, they had started to stutter.
Five draws, including a stalemate with Arsenal and coming from two goals down to draw with Liverpool at Anfield, and a 4-1 loss at Manchester City isn’t disastrous.
Draws at lowly Norwich City and Newcastle United however, is below the expectation placed on a side exceeding their usual points totals and league position of previous seasons.
A player the Albion hope will continue where he left off is Leandro Trossard. According to Fantasy Premier League, he is the tenth most in form player in the league. Him, Jarrod Bowen in ninth and Maxwell Cornet in third are the only three in the list not to play for one of the ‘big six.’
Brighton’s only Premier League win against Villa came at Villa Park last season. Danny Welbeck’s chip over Emiliano Martinez on the counter-attack and Solly March’s curling effort either side of an Ezri Konsa goal secured three points in a game where March was reprieved by VAR of giving away a penalty in second half stoppage time.
One positive is that Jack Grealish no longer plays for Villa having scored four goals and assisting another in seven appearances against Brighton.
Dean Smith, now at Norwich, had beaten Graham Potter sides four times in eight games, albeit only one of those defeats came in the Premier League, and two of them were while the latter managed Swansea.
Steven Gerrard has had a glimpse of Albion in pre-season when they visited his Rangers side which ended in a goalless draw despite the best efforts of his side. Brighton’s side, much changed in comparison to their league starters, didn’t have much to show from that game. A tame Andi Zeqiri drive to the left of Jon McLaughlin the best of very few chances.
What Brighton can expect is a hard-working side who press high and attack in numbers. Gerrard will only have a couple of days with a lot of the squad returning from international break but that is how his Rangers side played to great success, denying Celtic a tenth straight league title, and obtaining his side’s 55th.
In the league form table for the previous five games, Brighton sit at 14th with four points, Aston Villa are at the foot of it with no points and 13 goals conceded. It’s one of few tables, including stats tables, where Brighton don’t rank in the top ten, apart from goals scored.
The City game slightly distorts the overall picture of those last five games but highlights that Potter’s side need to find their shooting boots to compliment what is the fourth best league defence.
Brighton will also be without Robert Sanchez, who is suspended after receiving a red card for tripping Callum Wilson who would have been through on goal. The goalkeeper was below-par with his distribution in that game against Newcastle, the red card adding to that disappointment.
Jason Steele has his first taste of Premier League football in his career. He has made 259 Championship appearances in his career and three outings in the Carabao cup this season having watched on from the bench in all 11 games Sanchez has started in the topflight this campaign. Steele has the full backing of his manager.
"Jason’s played in the Carabao Cup, so Jason will be in goal and Kjell (Scherpen) will support him. Jason has never let us down, he’s a fantastic guy and he will take the opportunity," said Potter after the draw with Newcastle United.