Brighton v Aston Villa
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Brighton heading towards safety
Brighton have made a strong start to 2021 with Graham Potter’s side taking a significant step towards securing their Premier League status. The Seagulls were looking over their shoulders after a nine-game winless run in the competition but claimed an overdue victory at Leeds last month. It has sparked a five-match unbeaten league run to move them up to 15th and ten points clear of the bottom three.
Their football has often failed to yield the points they merited but Brighton have finally delivered lately with 11 points from their last five games.
A home win over Tottenham was followed by a superb 1-0 victory at champions Liverpool.
Potter’s side also earned a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Saturday. Brighton were unlucky to lose 1-0 at Leicester on Wednesday in the FA Cup after a last-minute goal from Kelechi Iheanacho.
Villa with outside shot of European spot
Aston Villa have been one of the success stories of the season with Dean Smith guiding the team from the brink of relegation last year to competing in the top half of the table. Ninth-placed Villa are only five points off Liverpool in fourth and have games in hand on virtually all the teams above them. A European spot is not out of the question although this may prove just beyond them.
Villa completed a league double over Arsenal last weekend after Ollie Watkins fired them to a 1-0 win. It was their 11th victory of the campaign, with only the top three sides winning more games this season. Playmaker Jack Grealish has spearheaded their success but there have been plenty of other key contributors including goalkeeper Emi Martinez and tireless midfielder John McGinn.
Brighton are 2.8815/8 to continue their recent league form and this looks tempting on first glance. The hosts have won three of their last five games in the competition but their home form is a slight concern. Brighton have won just one of their 11 matches at the Amex Stadium and this is a warning for anyone considering backing them.
Aston Villa are marginal favourites at 2.6613/8 but their price indicates this is expected to be a close contest. Villa have a strong away record, having won six games on the road, but this looks a tricky test against a Brighton side that is hard to beat.
The draw is the biggest price at 3.55 and looks a strong selection. Brighton have drawn a league high ten matches this season and six of these have come at home. Three of the last six clashes between the teams have ended in a draw and it would be no surprise if this ended in a stalemate. Draw specialists Brighton may fall short of victory and the odds on the teams cancelling each other out stand out as the best bet.
Villa have had no problem scoring goals this season with the side netting 36 times and their pace in attack causing trouble for opponents. Brighton have been less efficient in the final third but will still back themselves to find the net this weekend.
The last seven contests between Brighton and Aston Villa have all seen both teams score.
However the skinny odds on both teams scoring are not very appealing at 1.695/7. Instead it could be worth combining both teams to net and the draw, with Betfair’s Same Game Multi, which increases the odds to 3.9 on a game which is fancied to end level.
Watkins has scored ten Premier League goals for Aston Villa this season, the most by an English player in a top-flight campaign for the club since Gabriel Agbonlahor in 2009-10 (13). Watkins is 15/8 to score this weekend.
Follow Simon’s bets on Twitter @watfordtipster