Aston Villa 6 Brighton 1 Analysis
By Alex Martinez
Aston Villa made it 10 wins in a row at home in the Premier League, with Unai Emery becoming the first Villa manager ever to get to double figures. The main talking point of the match will probably be star striker Ollie Watkins registering his first Premier League hat-trick in three years, and his second this season already (the other coming against Hibernian in the Europa Conference League).
It was truly a team effort at Villa Park this week, capped off with Jacob Ramsey’s very welcome first goal after returning from breaking his metatarsal on international duty.
Despite the emphatic scoreline of Aston Villa 6 Brighton 1, when it came to xG, oddly it was very level with Villa registering an xG of 1.96 and Brighton with 1.86 xG).
The below attacking momentum chart suggests Villa might have topped that xG in the first half alone with their attacking dominance. In the second-half, you can clearly see that Villa, despite less possession, simply picked off Brighton in efficient fashion to complete the romp.
Ollie Watkins Return
After a recent barren spell in the league, Ollie Watkins definitely gave England manager Gareth Southgate some food for thought with his 10/10 showing. His hat-trick took the striker to 21 goals in his last 36 matches in all competitions.
Watkins clinical finishing, netting three from four shots on target, was a welcome site, after recent frustrations. His five key passes drove Villa forward, and his link-up play with strike partner Moussa Diaby was most effective at times.
Villa’s joint-fourth Premier League all-time scorer was back to his best at Villa Park, but it wasn’t just his clinical finishing that shone. Off the ball, Villa were a lot more aggressive than in previous matches. A major reason for that was thanks to Watkins and Diaby’s work ethic in closing down Brighton’s defenders and keeper, which largely went under the radar, but was a big factor contributing to Villa’s win.
Super John McGinn
Captain John McGinn certainly showcased his growth under Emery, with a performance to remember. His boss was certainly very happy with his captain’s contribution.
“Super John McGinn! McGinn is very consistent,” said Emery, after the game. “Sometimes his performances are very high level, sometimes it’s medium level, but he’s always important. He’s always available and he is a very, very competitive man. He is always trying to help the team in the different positions we need to put him”
His Stats: 1 assist, 5 tackles, 83% pass accuracy, 53% duels won, 100% dribble success rate, 1 big chance created.
You don’t need stats to know when McGinn has influenced a game. He had the snap in the tackle and midfield hustle, and then a directness in his trademark through balls, that was clear to all watching, as he fed Villa’s burgeoning strike force of Watkins and Diaby, whom he constantly linked-up with on the counter.
Konsa is fast earning back his earlier Rolls Royce tag and was nothing short of exceptional against Brighton, whether that was linking up with defensive partner Pau Torres (who’s drives into midfield were influential), or just keeping the play ticking, he was everywhere across the back line, with a 86% pass completion rate and 221 progressive passing yards.
Winning four out of five duels proved that he can also show physicality, and compliment Pau Torres’s passing ability as well. His five clearances (most in squad), showed that he was also there to provide a last ditch way out.
Just the Tonic
Emery’s side certainly turned it around after a 2-1 defeat to Everton in the cup, thanks to Watkins scoring his 48th, 49th, and 50th Villa goals. Along with a clinical attack, a strong defence, and a compact and sharp midfield, all helped contribute to a marvellous 6-1 victory.
A positive result in Europe and Villa will be nicely set-up for the season ahead.
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Additional reporting MOMS