How Villa could line up vs Brighton: Emery set to make key changes after cup defeat

Aston Villa make the trip to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton on Sunday, as Unai Emery looks set to make several changes to his line-up again.

This encounter will be our final outing prior to the World Cup break, and so the hope is that we can put in a strong performance and sign off with three important points.

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Having rotated his squad in midweek in the Carabao Cup, Emery will have had a chance to make crucial assessments on his players and on who deserves a shot to impress this weekend. After making seven changes for that cup tie against Man Utd, we could see Villa make seven changes here again.

After such a positive start with our win over Utd last weekend, Emery will be desperate to get another early win under his belt as we look to climb the Premier League table and move further away from any danger to alleviate any pressure on our return after Christmas.

Key players set to return to Villa XI

Emiliano Martinez is set to return to the line-up after Emery confirmed he expects those involved in the World Cup to be available, as per VillaTV, while Matty Cash, Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne could all be restored to the XI too with Ezri Konsa the only one to remain in the side that played at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

That seems to be our strongest backline currently, and having impressed in our last Premier League outing, they deserve a chance to build on that and continue to give us a strong base on which to build.

Leander Dendoncker missed out in midweek having been cup-tied, and so having built a strong partnership with Douglas Luiz in the heart of the midfield, he’ll be expected to come back in and give us more of a physical presence and composure in that department.

That said, Boubacar Kamara did register a full 90 minutes in his absence, and so he’ll certainly hope that he has done enough to keep his place. Nevertheless, having come back from injury over the past week, Villa may well be wise to avoid pushing the Frenchman too much at this stage.

Emiliano Buendia and Leon Bailey will also likely return to the Villa XI, with Jacob Ramsey and Ollie Watkins keeping their respective places as we go back to the same attacking line-up that we saw in the league win over Man Utd last weekend.

We saw plenty of positives from this side in that game, as there were clear signs of a style of play and direction in what we were doing on and off the ball which led to a much-improved performance and victory.

Emery will hope his players can repeat that level of performance against Brighton, and importantly show it across 90 minutes to secure a positive outcome. It won’t be easy as our opponents are in good form and riding high, but a win could see us end up in 11th spot heading into the break and that would be a much healthier place for us to pick up from in late December.

Predicted Aston Villa XI vs Brighton: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Dendoncker, Luiz; Buendia, Ramsey, Bailey; Watkins.