Aston Villa v Brighton: Seagulls will soon soar says Dean Smith

Boss Dean Smith says Villa will face a Brighton side who he believes are sat in a false position when the two teams meet tomorrow.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith

Graham Potter’s men head to the West Midlands having won just one of their eight Premier League games so far.

Performances, though, have been markedly better than results with the Seagulls winning plaudits for their attractive and positive approach.

And Smith believes they have the potential to quickly rise from their current position of 16th in the table.

“I’m expecting a really tough game,” the boss said.

“I’ve watched a lot of their matches, looked at a lot of their stats and they’re in the top half for a lot of those stats. They haven’t got the wins they would have expected with those stats.

“They’re a modern-day football team in terms of playing through the thirds.

“They have some very good players and we’ll certainly have to be at our best.

“We need to go and get a result at Villa Park because our last two results there haven’t been good.

“We’re coming up against a really good footballing team.”

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Smith said it appears Villa’s squad haven’t been impacted by Covid-19 during the international break. And the boss admits that is a huge relief.

“There’s anxiety when they are away,” Smith continued.

“You are worried one of your players could contract because they are leaving your bubble to go to another bubble.

“But I’m quite happy with the protocols that are in place when we hand them over to their international countries.

“We are trusting their countries are following the protocols.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith

“I have no issues with that but it’s always at the back of your mind because this virus is getting everywhere and we’re all aware of that. So the anxieties are there that someone might contract it and we would have to move very quickly to adapt to that situation.”

With the season congested this year due to coronavirus, clubs in the EFL voted this week to allow five substitutions in a game – a rule that will come into force this weekend.

Smith, in the past, has said he would be against seeing the same thing happen in the Premier League. But he would change his mind if it was proven it would prevent players from picking up injuries.

“I’m still of the mind that we should only have three subs.” Smith said.

“We had a talk about it at a manager’s meeting on Wednesday

“I think the biggest thing that is coming up is the welfare of the players.

“Obviously, we have a more congested fixture list and I think it’s a common agreement between all managers that the fixture schedule needs to get looked at.

“I have said before, I don’t think clubs in Europe should be playing on a Wednesday or Thursday evening, travelling back, and then playing at 12.30 on a Saturday.

“But in terms of the subs rule, if it’s a player welfare issue then I am all for changing to five subs.

“But I would have to see a trend in the data to suggest that.

“I can only go off my players, I have spoken to them. I want to look after them and make sure their welfare is good. I am speaking to them all the time and they haven’t got a problem at the moment.

“We have started the season with three subs.

“I think the reason why we went down the five subs rule for project restart was the fact we were playing 10 games in a really short period of time – with a short pre-season.

“But we have had eight weeks off between March, April and May.

“If the data shows me, though, there is a trend to question player welfare then I will support that, until then I am happy to stick with three subs.”

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