Aston Villa-Brighton & Hove Albion Preview
Aston Villa already have one victory over Brighton & Hove Albion this season. Another might remove them from their current spot within the Premier League relegation zone.
Villa look to do the double over the Seagulls when these sides meet Saturday at the Amex Stadium.
Aston Villa's return to the Premier League has had its moments. An early victory over Everton and recent triumph at Burnley stand out. Of course, the Villans (6-3-13) have also seen too many losses for their liking build up in 2019-20.
The most recent coming 6-1 to Manchester City at home last weekend. It was by far Villa's worst defeat of the term, and left them sitting atop the league's drop zone, but just one point from safety.
"It was tough, but we can always be better," captain Jack Grealish told Aston Villa's official website. "We have to try and forget about it, and go into (Saturday's) game against Brighton with our heads held high.
"It's one of those games that we're going to have to dust ourselves down from and go again (this weekend)."
That's a healthy approach to take, and perhaps not too far fetched to believe Villa can rebound in positive fashion. As they continue to examine ways to improve the club amidst the January transfer window, the immediate focus is winning for the third time in the last five league contests.
Their 2-1 victory at Burnley on New Year's Day snapped a three-game road slide. Villa also know they are capable of taking three points from Brighton (6-6-10), something they did with a 2-1 home victory on Oct. 19. Grealish (six goals) equalised late in the first half of that contest, and assisted on Matt Targett's stoppage-time winner.
"We're now coming up against teams in and around us in the league," Villa manager Dean Smith said. "Our season won't be defined by playing against the Manchester Citys of this world. It will be defined by playing against the Brightons, Watfords and Bournemouths. They're all massive games for us.
"Brighton were very good at Villa Park, and we needed a last-minute winner from Matt Targett. (Brighton) are a team that haven't won many, similar to ourselves. We both know this is a tough league and we'll both see this as a game we need to win."
Though Brighton sit 14th in the table, they are just three points better than Villa. They Seagulls are only 2-3-6 within the league since early November, and coming off a 1-0 loss at Everton.
The Seagulls, though, have been a relatively solid team at home, going 4-4-3 there, but have just one win over their last five Premier League matches (1-2-2) at the Amex.
"(Saturday is) a very important game because it's a team that's fighting near us in the table," defender Bernardo told Brighton's official website. "We know that we are in a similar level in the table, and it feels like a six-pointer. We need to enjoy this opportunity and try to get something from this match."
Brighton's Adam Webster scored one of his three goals this season against Villa. However, all of those goals have come on the road.
Updated January 16, 2020