Aston Villa picked up their first win on the road in the Premier League this season at the eighth attempt. Unai Emery guided Villa to all three points against Brighton on his first attempt away from Villa Park. What makes it even more impressive is that Brighton have not lost in their last 20 games at the Amex Stadium when they scored first!
We head into the World Cup break in 12th position in the Premier League just four points adrift of 6th place Liverpool.
Illness to Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey forced Emery into changes from the side that comfortably beat Manchester United at Villa Park last Sunday. Danny Ings replaced Watkins up top while Emi Buendia played the second striker role as John McGinn slotted into midfield.
Many would have feared the worst when Brighton took the lead in less than one minute. Alexis Mac Allister outmuscled Douglas Luiz following a poor pass from Emi Martinez to score past his International teammate.
Villa looked sloppy for a short period before responding in an impressive manner. First, Levi Colwell made a last-ditch block to divert Ings’ effort out for a corner and then Pervis Estupinan prevented a tap-in for McGinn after Ings cut the ball across the six-yard box.
The visitors were level at the 20-minute mark when they were awarded a penalty. Buendia played a beautiful through ball for McGinn who was brought down by a lunging Lewis Dunk. Despite the protests from the Brighton captain, replays and VAR confirmed a stone wall penalty.
Ings stepped up and slotted home past Robert Sanchez in the Brighton goal.
Brighton then tried one out of the Douglas Luiz book when Pascal Groß tried to catch Martinez off guard from a corner kick but the Argentine was equal to the effort.
The home side started to dominate the procession without ever really looking like a threat and then Villa got themselves ahead after 54 minutes.
Buendia could only watch on as his headed effort clattered back off the post. The ball fell to Mac Allister but Douglas Luiz got revenge on the midfielder when he robbed the ball allowing Ings through on goal. Dunk dived in but Ings pulled the ball back onto his left and his eventual shot deflected off Colwill and into the net.
There was a lot of late pressure from the home side and Villa probably got away with one late on when Lucas Digne caught Solly March in the penalty area. To Villa fans’ relief, VAR backed the referee who said no penalty.
The performance was far from pretty but the team showed real fight to grind out all three points and their first win on the road in the Premier League next season.
Those who are not heading to the World Cup will now have a 10-day break before heading out for a mid-season training camp before the re-start of the Premier League on December 26th.