Brighton v Aston Villa: Premier League – live | Premier League

Key events

10 min Mings gets first contact and it’s enough – for now – the ball flying away square. Brighton, though, sustain the pressure and even when Villa clear their lines they do so in minor panic, ceding possession once more.

9 min Mings tries to get in on Enciso early but doesn’t get to the ball, so has to yank his man down. He does well to avoid a booking, then Kamara fouls Trossard and Brighton have a free-kick to swing over from the left…

8 min On that point, I should be clear that Emery knows more abut football than me, but with his strikers, I respectfully suggest wingers are essential.

7 min Brighton do indeed seem to be targeting wide areas, where Villa only have one man on each side. I guess the system can work – we’ve seen it work – but it needs monstrous athletes in the middle and a proper understanding of what to do.

6 min Brighton are looking for more, Trossard sending Enciso down the left, and when the ball runs away from him, Mings wellies up in the air. Villa do clear, but they’re rattled.

5 min Ach, that’s a shame: Lallana can’t continue, so Eciso replaces him.

4 min Lallana, who led the press the forced the goal, is hurt…

3 min How about that?! Last week Villa “flew out them traps,” to quote Scott McTominay, but they were so so lax there. On Sky, Carragher is getting after Luiz, chastising his first touch and lack of strength. Fair enough, I guess, but I’d start my blame with the pass, which invited Mac Allister to get after it.

GOAL! Brighton 1-1 Aston Villa (Mac Allister 1)

And it’s cost them a goal inside a minute! They got into all sorts playing out from the back in midweek, mainly the fault of Robin Olsen, but this time Robert Sanchez plays through the middle to Luiz, putting him under pressure, Mac Allister marches through him with a the kind of tackle of which he’d have approved himself, then does the keeper with the eyes, sweeping into the far corner!

Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring.
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters

1 min Villa are indeed playing that 4-2-2-2.

1 min As the late, great, Ron Pickering liked to say, “Away we go!”

Time to remember those who gave their lives in war.

Alexis Mac Allister has just drunk from a flask, then gozzed all the liquid dangerously close to his shirt-front. More news as I get it

Anyway, our players are with us!

Email! “I agree that it has never been easier to be a brilliant footballer,” says Kári Tulinius, “but there is the argument that brilliance thrives under adverse conditions, not in times of plenty. That, say, the total football of the 70s or the rioplatense style of the 1920s outshines today’s game. Personally I think brilliance is too rare to draw conclusions about what helps and what hinders, but I’ll admit that I feel instinctive sympathy to the Harry Lime view.”

I’m just saying that there are more good players now than ever, not that they, or the game, are better. And what I love about Harry Lime is that Graham Greene wrote the book in order to be able to make the film.

Here’s Anthony Soprano in similar vein.

I think Steven Gerrard’s major failing at Villa was failing to settle on a formation and an XI. Obviously there are vicissitudes of form and fitness, but the wrong settled team picked every week will be better than a different team picked every week. Emery will need time to work out his squad and how best to deploy those in it, but he won’t constantly second-guess himself, I don’t think.

A word to the wise: if ever you’ve the pleasure of emptying sulphuric acid down a plughole – and let me tell you, the exhilaration of the hiss and buzz as it does its work is something – don’t hang about to admire your handiwork, unless you want to feel like you can no longer swallow, while experiencing the tiredness of a thousand years.

Brighton, meanwhile, will want their wide players to pin the Villa full-backs back, and more generally this looks like a contest between a possession team and a power team. The hosts will seek to keep the ball and probe, while the visitors will be relying on turnovers to create the majority of their opportunities.

I felt this before watching Villa in midweek, but looking at their team tonight, my fear for them is that they’ve not got enough out wide to feed Ings. That’s one of various reasons I’m surprised there’s no Bailey – Cash and Digne will need to cover a lot of ground – but, on the other hand, it should be be pretty difficult to penetrate them centrally.

Google also reckon Villa will play 4-2-3-1 not 4-2-2-2. My best guess is the players get on the pitch and run around, visiting various parts of it in the process.

Google reckon Brighton will have Welbeck up front and Trossard off the left, which is possible. My guess though, is the other way around because Welbeck isn’t a great finisher, is more dangerous coming from out to in, and Trossard has been doing nicely playing as a nine. I see both sides, though, because Welbeck has the touch and physical presence to play into then play off.

Feel free to send in your melodic Ibiza classics because why not?

Is it just me, or is it impossible to see R. Sanchez in the Brighton net, sack off the game, put this on, and go out dancing? Ta-ra!

Villa, meanwhile, make three changes, with Boubacar Kamara, John McGinn and Danny Ings replacing Leander Dendoncker, Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins. Watkins isn’t in the squad so is presumably unavailable – Ings is a pretty nifty replacement – and I’m sure Emery planned to get Kamara in as soon as he felt fit enough. I’m surprised Bailey doesn’t start, but I’m sure we’ll see him off the bench.

So what does it all mean? Brighton are without Adam Webster, so Levi Colwill, on loan from Chelsea, comes in for his first “this league” start, while Kaoru Mitoma also misses out; he’s replaced by Daniel Welbeck. Both those missing are ill.

Welbeck, though, played well at Arsenal in midweek and is an intelligent mover with a lovely touch. Though he’s struggled with injury, he, perhaps more than anyone else, suffered for the retirement of Alex Ferguson, and given how little he’s played, should still have plenty to offer. As for Colwill, he’s meant to be very handy, so I’m looking forward to getting a proper look at him.

Let’s have some teams!

Brighton & Hove Albion (a flexible 4-2-3-1): Sanchez; Gross, Colwill, Dunk, Estupinan; Caicedo, Mac Allister’; March, Lallana, Welbeck, Trossard. Subs: Steele, Lamptey, Enciso, Undav, Gilmour, Veltman, Turns, Van-Hecke, Ferguson.

Aston Villa (a curious 4-2-2-2): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Luiz, Kamara; Ramsey, McGinn; Buendia, Ings. Subs: Olsen, Sanson, Chambers, Augustinsson, Young, Bednarek, Dendoncker, Bailey, Archer.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Ashton-Under-Lyne)


There’ve never been as many brilliant footballers in the world as there are now, so it therefore follows that there’ve never been as many brilliant footballers in England’s top division as there are now. Factor into that the Premier League’s financial dominance, and what, at first glance, makes no sense, actually makes perfect sense: a game between Brighton, seventh in the table, and Aston Villa, 15th in the table, should be an absolute belter.

Brighton are a perfect example of what can be achieved with the simple, judicious application of a billionaire’s wealth. They appoint quality staff throughout the club to milk whatever advantages there are to be found, then buy low and sell high – easy, right? Well actually not – earning that kind of money is extremely difficult. But more seriously, it’s also extremely difficult to pick the right manager just as it is to coach well, scout well and plan well.

And they come into this game in decent nick, a mix of first and second-choices having binned Arsenal from the Littlewoods in midweek, to back up the wins over Wolves and Chelsea which preceded it. Which is to say that Roberto di Zerbi – another ideal managerial appointment – has settled beautifully. His players understand the fast, attacking football he demands, and are doing it very well indeed.

Villa are a slightly different affair. They too have the benefit of a billionaire owner – football is the winner! – but the deployment of those funds has been more haphazard. Until now. Though there’s something not quite right about a manager leaving a club he led to the Europa League and Champions League semi-finals for one in the bottom half of the Prem, Unai Emery is a fine manager who is already showing the ability to fashion a team from the collection of excellent individuals assembled by Dean Smith and Steven Gerrard.

Most particularly – and where he differs from predecessors who kept fiddling – he has the confidence and patience to pick a formation, coach the players to play it, and stick with them. In last weekend, 3-1 win over Manchester United, his side were electric in the first quarter, their opponent’s failings cannily identified then mercilessly assaulted, and though a near-second XI were beaten in midweek, there was still plenty to like about Villa’s enterprise in attack.

So, stick with me, because this should be a lot of fun.

Kick-off: 2pm GMT

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