Four key talking points as Villa pick up draw in Brighton friendly

Aston Villa played out a 2-2 draw with Brighton on Thursday as part of our mid-season training plans in Dubai.

Danny Ings pounced on a mistake at the back from Brighton to open the scoring, but a quick-fire double from Deniz Undav turned the game around and saw our opponents take a lead.

Fortunately, we were able to find another breakthrough in the latter stages to secure a share of the spoils, with preparations continuing in the coming days before we take on Chelsea in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

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It’s arguably not worth taking too much from these games given we’re working on fitness over the World Cup break and gearing our plans towards the Premier League restart, but Unai Emery will no doubt want to see positive signs and solid performances to continue to build confidence and belief.

Good run-out off back of intense training sessions

From the clips and images shared by the club and players, it has been a tough week for the squad in terms of the intensity of training in a warm climate.

It’s a crucial period ahead of returning to competitive action, and there will no doubt be a trade off between putting in the work in training and that impacting our performances in these friendlies as the players feel fatigued.

Ultimately though, it was a good test against a solid team, and it will have given Emery another opportunity to assess his options and get his ideas across to the players.

Defensive improvements needed

That said, both goals that we conceded were poor and defensive improvements are needed. Whether it was Calum Chambers backing off too much for the first or Robin Olsen not reacting after his defence parted too easily for the second, it was disappointing to concede the goals we did.

With Emi Martinez and Matty Cash to come back in after World Cup duty, they will no doubt make a huge difference for us in that area of the pitch, but as a collective, it has to be a lot better than what we saw in midweek in Dubai.

Again though, it’s difficult to be too critical as it’s a mid-season friendly that will expose these kind of issues and give the coaching staff examples of where we need to improve.

Kamara-Luiz stand-out performers

From Boubacar Kamara’s physical presence and composure on the ball to Douglas Luiz’s distribution and technical quality to dictate our play, the midfield duo stood out in this one.

It’s an area which Emery can certainly build around moving forward, as that doesn’t appear to be a department in which we necessarily have to prioritise reinforcements.

Kamara and Luiz provide a good balance in the pivot and complement each other well. It’s hoped that they continue to build chemistry and understanding the more they play alongside each other.

Coutinho, Carlos attend, no sign of Sanson

Villa confirmed that both Philippe Coutinho and Diego Carlos were in attendance as they watched on from the sidelines while working their way back after injury.

It was also a bonus to see some of our youngsters get minutes too in the latter stages and it showed that there is good depth in the squad, albeit not evenly so across the pitch.

However, there has been no sign of Morgan Sanson as of yet in Dubai, after the Frenchman missed the game against Cardiff last week due to injury. It’s hoped that the Frenchman isn’t sidelined for long, as this training camp was a big chance for him, as well as everyone else in the squad, to make an impression on Emery.