Brighton & Hove Albion-Aston Villa Preview

National Sports

Steven Gerrard has promised immediate changes to Aston Villa’s playing style for his first game in charge at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

The Liverpool midfield legend was confirmed as Villa boss last week following a successful three-and-a-half-year spell in charge of Rangers, where he won the Scottish Premiership title last term.

Rather than challenging for silverware like he did with the Gers, Gerrard is instead tasked with guiding Villa away from Premier League danger as his first priority.

The Villans lost their final five games under previous boss Dean Smith, though Gerrard believes a fresh start can benefit his side against seventh-place Brighton.

“We will play different to what’s been before by putting my own stamp on things, my own identity and philosophy,” Gerrard said. “That will take time so you will see changes at the weekend.

“We are very much looking forward to the game. It will be tough but we will look forward to the challenge. It’s a new start, a fresh start. I won’t be digging into any previous games.

“We will become a possession-based team when we can transition into that. Time will tell.”

Brighton started the season strongly but have gone six games without a win, drawing all but one of those.

Graham Potter has been widely praised for his work with the Seagulls and believes opposite number Gerrard is also on his way to becoming a top manager.

“I think he’s done really, really well,” Potter said. “It’s not easy when you’re a top player like Steven was, to take the step into coaching and management.

“You have go through a process and you have to be brave enough to do that. I think that’s what he’s done.

“In my opinion the top players have the potential to be the top managers and Steven is on that path. It’s an exciting appointment.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Aston Villa – Danny Ings

Ings is set to return for Villa after missing their last two matches in what is a major boost for new boss Gerrard. He has been directly involved in five Premier League goals in nine appearances this term – three goals and two assists – which is two goal involvements more than any other Villa player.

Brighton and Hove Albion – Leandro Trossard

Trossard scored in Brighton’s draws with Liverpool and Newcastle United before the two-week break, but he has never previously found the net in three straight Premier League games. The two away goals the Belgium international has scored this season is already as many as he managed in his first two top-flight campaigns with Brighton combined.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Since winning their first Premier League game against Brighton in October 2019, Aston Villa are winless in three against the Seagulls (D2 L1) and have not led for a single minute in any of those games.

– In all competitions, Brighton have only won one of their last 12 matches against Aston Villa (D5 L6), a 2-1 away win last season in the Premier League, their first ever away win over Villa.

– Seven of the eight Premier League goals scored in this fixture have been scored by Englishmen (87.5 per cent), the highest percentage of English scorers in any current Premier League fixture to have seen at least five goals in the competition. The exception was a goal from the Belgian Trossard in January 2020.

– Aston Villa have lost each of their last five Premier League games, their longest losing run since a streak of 11 in the 2015-16 campaign. Overall, it is Aston Villa’s sixth run of at least five consecutive defeats in the Premier League, with only four sides having more (Bolton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Southampton – all seven).

– Gerrard will be the 13th different permanent manager to take charge of Aston Villa in the Premier League. Only two of the previous 12 have won their first such game for the club (D6 L4), with John Gregory beating Liverpool (Feb 1998) and Gerard Houllier beating Wolves (Sep 2010).

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