Aston Villa is living up to expectations now, as new boss Unai Emery oversaw an impressive 2-1 comeback win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.
Brighton went ahead in the first minute through Alexis Mac Allister, but Danny Ings scored a pair of goals to deliver Villa three more points on the table.
WATCH BRIGHTON vs ASTON VILLA FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM
Villa’s won three-of-four since firing Steven Gerrard, the last two overseen by new boss Emery, to move into 12th with 18 points.
The Seagulls sit seventh with 21 points after a mini two-game winning streak ended Sunday.
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What we learned from Brighton vs Aston Villa
Emery’s fingerprints already showing: First-minute error aside, Aston Villa looks a different side. Unai Emery’s men look ready to stay compact in pursuit of possession or the chance to explode up the pitch. Four ball-winners across a midfield allowed fullbacks to get forward, which showed up in quickfire passing patterns and clearer ideas for Danny Ings and, especially, Emiliano Buendia. Good stuff. One variable to note: Ollie Watkins was surprisingly not in the 18.
Ings success shows Brighton what it’s missing: It’s true that one of his goals was a penalty, but Danny Ings has spent his career making the most of chances and half-chances. Brighton has a nine in Danny Welbeck who runs his shorts off but isn’t converting his chances. Neal Maupay didn’t fit the bill when he was there, either, and Brighton’s inability to land a Premier League-level starter at center forward has it living the false-nine life with a number of Championship superstar strikers.
Emery’s use of Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn around Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz meant making in-roads into Villa’s midfield was a real hassle for Brighton, but it also gave freedom to Lucas Digne and Matty Cash to surge forward as the game wore into the second half.
Stars of the show
Brighton will face Charlton in the League Cup on Dec. 20 before visiting Southampton on Boxing Day.
Villa’s next match is in the Premier League on Boxing Day, when Liverpool comes calling at Villa Park.
Alexis Mac Allister goal video: First-minute delight
Danny Ings goal video: Penalty equalizer
Danny Ings goal video: Deft move meets lucky deflection
How to watch Brighton vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Key storylines & star players
The difference for Brighton this season, compared to recent campaigns where they came so close to putting it all together, has been the steady stream of goals coming from Leandro Trossard (7), Pascal Gross (5) and Alexis Mac Allister (4). Last season, Trossard and Neal Maupay jointly led Brighton in goals, with eight each. 13 games into the 2022-23 Premier League season, and the Belgian, who’s heading to the World Cup this week as a result, is already set to eclipse his record tally for Brighton.
As for Aston Villa, Emery has already made an instant impact since arriving from Villarreal earlier this month, judging by the 3-1 victory over Manchester United last weekend. They played very narrow with two defensive midfielders and two floating attackers underneath two strikers playing together up top. After going 2-0 in the opening 11 minutes, Villa made the game an ugly, physical affair that choked the life out of Man United possession anytime they entered the final third, resulting in just eight shots (three on target) for a side that trailed for 83 of the 90 minutes (and trailed by two goals for 75 of the final 79 minutes).
Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Jakub Moder (knee)
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Philippe Coutinho (thigh), Diego Carlos (achilles)
Danny Ings double drives Aston Villa to win at Brighton originally appeared on NBCSports.com