Unai Emery leads his Aston Villa into battle in a Premier League away fixture for the first time today where a serious test of his players’ mettle awaits at the Amex Stadium against Brighton. Albion are aiming to win for the fourth time on the bounce following excellent victories over Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal in league and cup, while Villa will hope to use last weekend’s 3-1 win over Manchester United as a platform for further success on the south coast.
As per the usual routine, you can find our stats pack for today’s clash below which is stuffed with enough statistical info to give you a better chance at beating the bookies with your bet builder coupons. You can also take a look at my guide on how to use it best just here.
Jakub Moder is a long-term absentee for Brighton and the versatile midfielder isn’t expected to return to the fold until next year. The Seagulls have few personnel issues beyond the 23-year-old, however.
Albion boss Roberto de Zerbi made several changes to his XI for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win at Arsenal. Kaoru Mitoma, Pascal Groß, Adam Webster, Pervis Estupinan and Robert Sanchez should be restored to the team today.
Brazilian pair Philippe Coutinho and Diego Carlos are still sidelined for Aston Villa, though Unai Emery has a strong squad to choose from elsewhere.
Tyrone Mings, Leon Bailey, Matty Cash, Lucas Digne and keeper Emiliano Martínez are expected to be drafted back in having been kept in reserve at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.
Brighton’s goals for figure (1.69) still falls short of their xG (1.87 p90), though Albion rank well for a number of other metrics including shots (15.62), shots on target (6.38) and corners for per 90 (6.08).
Indeed, only five clubs have been clocking more attempts than the Seagulls so far and in their last home assignment against Chelsea, Brighton mustered a huge 19 shots with nine of those testing Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A 3-1 triumph over Manchester United was a stunning way to mark the start of the Unai Emery era at Villa Park last week, though it’s interesting to note that the Villains had just six attempts in their victory and scored three times from only four efforts on target.
Indeed, Villa have struggled to create chances for most of the campaign and only five clubs have been hitting fewer shots on target per 90 on the road (3.6). The Midlanders have also been averaging just one goal per game, while only four sides have collected more cards (31).
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Leandro Trossard has featured prominently in both the shots (2.91) and shots on target (1.16) per 90 stakes for Brighton this term and the Belgian attacker is worth watching again today.
Solly March holds an admirable attempts tally (2.16 p/90) from the flank, while Alexis Mac Allister could be a decent option at longer odds despite his omission from the list. The Argentinean is averaging a healthy 1.9 shots per game this term and the 23-year-old pinged five attempts against Wolves last weekend.
Aston Villa managed to hit just 11 attempts combined in Unai Emery’s first two games in charge – both of which were against Man Utd – and Jamaican winger Leon Bailey chipped in with three of those in about 100 minutes of action.
Defenders Ashley Young, Lucas Digne and Matty Cash racked up four attempts between them across both matches which suggests Villa’s full-backs should have plenty of licence to get forward under Emery’s instruction.
Player Goals and Assists
Belgian star Leandro Trossard is Albion’s leading scorer in the league with seven goals and six of those strikes were dispatched inside his last eight appearances.
Versatile German Pascal Groß found the net in each of his last two Premier League appearances and the unsung hero has claimed seven goal contributions overall this term (5G, 2A).
Japanese international Kaoru Mitoma has emerged from the shadows as another Albion goal threat in recent weeks. The 25-year-old has lodged three goal contributions (2G, 1A) in his last three runouts in league and cup.
Leon Bailey converted the first goal of Unai Emery’s rein against Man Utd last weekend and moved alongside Danny Ings as the club’s joint-leading marksman in the Premier League in the process.
Defender Lucas Digne leathered in a superb freekick to net his first league goal for Villa in the same game, while Ollie Watkins pocketed a third assist for the campaign when he set up Jacob Ramsey.
Watkins also finished well to give Villa the lead in Thursday’s Carabao Cup clash against the Red Devils at Old Trafford. The 26-year-old scored both home and away against Brighton last season.
South American pair Alexis Mac Allister (1.23 fouls p/90) and Moises Caicedo (2.19 fouls p/90) form a bone-crunching duo for Brighton and the midfielders have collected seven bookings between them in the Premier League.
Both tough tacklers are prime card candidates again today, as is Caicedo’s compatriot Pervis Estupinan at left-back. The 24-year-old has been cautioned three times in just seven league starts this term.
The midfield battleground should be fertile territory for bettors hunting cards this afternoon and Jacob Ramsey (fouled 2.08 times p/90) could be in for some rough treatment there from Caicedo.
Brazilian Douglas Luiz (fouled 0.8 times per 90) can look forward to a scrap with Argentinean Mac Allister, while livewire winger Leon Bailly has been threatening enough of late to draw extra attention for Estupinan on the flank.
Match-Ups to watch
Alexis Mac Allister vs Douglas Luiz
Moises Caicedo vs Jacob Ramsey
Pervis Estupinan vs Leon Bailly
Aston Villa Cards
Leon Bailey was dynamite against Man Utd last weekend from an attacking perspective though he displayed his explosive temper again in midweek against the same opponents and was lucky not to be sent off for a wild kick out at Lisandro Martinez.
The Jamaican has been carded four times in his last seven appearances for Villa and he doesn’t react well when put under physical pressure. With Brighton fond of attacking down the flanks, both Villa full-backs Matty Cash (two cards) and Lucas Digne (two) should also be in the thick of the action today.
Experienced Brighton centre-half Lewis Dunk has only been fouled 0.5 times per Premier League appearance this term, but he will know that putting the squeeze on Leon Bailly today could draw a reaction. That battle has the potential to produce a card at the Amex Stadium.
Elsewhere, Kaoru Mitoma’s fouls against count is starting to rise alongside his reputation and the attacker could test the timing of Matty Cash’s tackles. On the opposite side, one of Brighton’s most-fouled players this term, Solly March (1.60) will be aiming to unsettle prolific ankle-clipper, Lucas Digne.
Match-Ups to watch
Leon Bailey vs Lewis Dunk
Matty Cash vs Kaoru Mitoma
Lucas Digne vs Solly March
This one kicks off our final day of Premier League action before the World Cup starts, and I’m really intrigued to see how Emery gets on against a side that have finally clicked under De Zerbi.
Best of luck if you’re having a bet, and as always please remember to stay sensible with those stakes and stay in control at all times.