Aston Villa team news ahead of vital Brighton and Hove Albion battle

By Daniel O'Hara

Friday, 17th January 2020, 4:51 pm
Updated Friday, 17th January 2020, 4:52 pm
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has joined Aston Villa on loan

Brighton and Hove Albion could be facing Aston Villa on Saturday at a tricky time, with the visitors to The Amex having been humiliated 6-1 to reigning Premier League Champions Manchester City on Sunday.

An injury time Anwar El-Ghaze penalty wasn't enough to overshadow a Riyad Mahrez brace, Sergio Aguero hat-trick and Gabriel Jesus strike which inflicted the Villains with their heaviest defeat so far this campaign.

Their manager Dean Smith insists they will not defined by the result and has little doubt that Villa will try to stage a response against the Seagulls this weekend.

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina was watching (possibly through his fingers at times) from the stands, completing a loan move from AC Milan. He will likely feature at Albion in place of the injured Tom Heaton

Despite having a torrid afternoon on Sunday, seeing him at fault for Mahrez's second, loan signing Danny Drinkwater has been backed by Smith, who told the Aston Villa website the 29-year-old's arrival will benefit his squad as games go by:

"He got 75 minutes of match time today, which he needed. He's come in and looked good in training and certainly wasn't the reason we lost 6-1 on Sunday".

Skipper Jack Grealish was seething with his side's defeat to the hands of the champions, and has targeted an immediate response.

"We have to try and forget about it and go into next weekend against Brighton with our heads held high,” said the 24-year-old who has already scored twice against Brighton this season.

This also isn't the first time Villa have felt serious bouncebackability is required.

A dismal performance saw them lose to fellow strugglers Watford 3-0 over Christmas, before regrouping and grinding out an impressive 2-1 win away to Burnley.

Albion themselves haven't been in the best of form, having not picked up a win since before the new year - most recently losing to by a goal to nil to Everton at Goodison Park.

With both sides desperately requiring a response from their previous fixtures, an interesting afternoon on the south coast is almost certainly in store.