Graham Potter says his Brighton and Hove Albion team are preparing to face an Aston Villa side possessing one of the Premier League’s best players in Jack Grealish.
Villa enjoyed a brilliant start to the campaign, though successive defeats set them back before Dean Smith’s side returned to form with a 3-0 victory at Arsenal prior to the international break.
With four goals and five assists from seven league appearances to his name already this season, Grealish has been the key man, and the Villa captain has subsequently played a starring role for England.
Brighton, who sit 16th – 10 places and nine points behind Villa – are next up on Saturday, and Potter knows his team are going up against one of the league’s best players.
«They are a team with a lot of talented players, dangerous players and they have got one of, if not, the best player in the Premier League at the moment in Jack,» Potter told SussexLive. «I think Dean and the club have done a fantastic job.You can see how hard it is in the Premier League, even a club like Villa with their size, history, and culture they had to fight last year to stay in the league.»
Smith, meanwhile, spoke of another Villa midfielder who has impressed this term.
Douglas Luiz has become a Brazil regular, and reports have emerged that Manchester City will be looking to exercise a buy-back option in his contract, but Smith is unconcerned.
«He’s done really well for Brazil,» Smith said. «There’s been talk about a buy-back option. I’m not aware of it, I don’t deal with contracts. I deal with the players. What I know is Douglas Luiz is loving his time at Aston Villa and getting better and better. He’s performing very well for Brazil as well. Long may that continue.»
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins
Watkins, who netted twice at the Emirates, has scored six goals in his last five Premier League appearances, with Grealish providing the assist for half of those goals. The former Brentford star has taken little time to settle into life in the top flight.
Brighton and Hove Albion – Neal Maupay
Another ex-Brentford striker who has made a decent fist of it in the Premier League is Maupay. After a training-ground incident, the Frenchman was dropped from the squad for Brighton’s defeat to Tottenham on November 1, but has four league goals already this season and is sure to test Villa’s defence.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• Villa are unbeaten in their last eight league meetings with Brighton (W4 D4), since a 0-1 defeat in December 1980.
• Brighton have never won away against Aston Villa in all competitions, drawing three and losing nine of their 12 games. Indeed, the Seagulls have lost all five of their visits to Villa Park in the top-flight.
• Villa have won five of their seven Premier League games so far this season (L2), netting 18 goals in the process. It took the Villans 13 games to score as many Premier League goals last season, while they picked up their fifth win in their 19th game in 2019-20.
• No team has conceded more fouls than Brighton in the Premier League so far this season (106), while no side has won more than Villa (103). Since the start of last season, their captain Grealish has been fouled 196 times in the Premier League, at least 52 more than any other player.
• Grealish has scored in each of his last four appearances against Brighton in all competitions, netting in all three meetings last season. He has scored more goals against the Seagulls than he has any other opponent in his senior career (four).