The Villa Appetiser: Brighton v Aston Villa 2016
A goal for Tommy Elphick wasn’t enough to secure a victory at Villa Park the last time we played Brighton.
The defender wasn’t in Villa colours that day, though – and Delph and Young were among Villa’s scorers. A lot has changed since then, for Villa as well as Brighton, who were then in League One.
Brighton are looking good bets for promotion, sitting in 2nd place in the Championship, and it’s hardly an easy fixture for Villa as the international break ends, despite our resurgence.
We meet Brighton in the league for the first time in 33 years – can Bruce record a second away win?
Bruce on Brighton
“We’ve taken our full allocation. It’s live on TV. I think they’ve won four on the spin.
“They’ve got some good players and as a group and a team, they seem to be really together and they’ve had a good couple of years at it now.
“They were very unfortunate and dealt a cruel blow last year in the play-offs in particular. They’re going to be there or thereabouts.
“That’s the yardstick, we know what we’re up against but we’ve done okay ourselves recently.”
Albion striker Murray on Villa
“We’re expecting a very tough game.
“I know that Villa will be well-drilled, organised and they’re a group of men which will be difficult to beat.
“We’ll be up for the challenge.
“It’s been a good start to the season. But I don’t think we’ve hit full stride yet.
“We need to keep focused, keep trying to improve and keep up our level of performances.”
brighton have lost just once in 19 matches at the Amex stadium
26th March 1983 Brighton 0 Villa 0
Both sides shared a point at the Goldstone Ground the last time we played Brighton in the league.
Brighton – Last five matches at home: W 4, D 1
Villa – Last five matches away: W 1, D 3, L 1
One to Watch
Glenn Murray – Returning to Brighton for a second stint, the on-loan Bournemouth striker has scored 9 goals this season – all of which have been at the Amex stadium.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Like many managers, Bruce has bemoaned the international break, but Brighton boss Chris Hughton will be equally frustrated.
Before the break, Brighton had recorded four consecutive wins, and even more impressively, all of them were accompanied by clean sheets.
Indeed as Villa were once the draw specialists of the division, Brighton are the clean sheet kings. They’ve managed 11 of them during their 16 fixtures so far – four more than any of their league rivals.
It seems pointless to focus on Villa’s unfortunate statistical records due to the great job Steve Bruce has done so far.
The fact that only Nottingham Forest have dropped more points (17) from leading positions than Villa (15) this season, however, is a little worrying, especially when you consider Brighton’s recent 5-0 demolition of promotion-chasing Norwich.
Mile Jedinak is the kind of tough-tackling midfielder you’d want on your side in a tricky away game like this, but due to his travels his inclusion still hangs in the balance, after Bruce has suggested he might rethink his earlier decision to rest him.
Brighton haven’t lost since early September, and have only conceded three goals in 15 hours of football. They’ve lost just once in 19 matches at the Amex.
Villa have at times struggled to break down defensive teams from the lower end of the table, so to get anything from Brighton given their run of form is certainly a difficult proposition.
Besides, we haven’t done so well when live on Sky Sports recently…
“we know what we’re up against but we’ve done okay ourselves recently” – BRUCE ON brighton clash
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
The gulf in league places might not be as extreme as it was when we won against Brighton in the FA Cup in 2010, but the form books still give reason for optimism. We’re unbeaten in our last five head-to-heads (W 4, D 1) against Brighton.
We head to Brighton having lost just one of 11 matches, so our defensive record is OK.
A betting man may well consider that a draw is on the cards here. Brighton are ruthless at home, but Villa have a new found resilience under Bruce’s guidance.
While a point would represent a decent night’s work, we need to keep collecting the points – don’t forget we’re not even in the top half of the Championship yet.
With Kodjia in excellent form and Ayew returning, however, a few goal-scoring opportunities and some solid defending might lead to three points at Brighton.