Talking tactics: Villa transition speed decisive, defensive structure key vs Brighton

Steven Gerrard began life at Aston Villa with a win over Brighton on Saturday, although we did leave it late to secure all three points.

It would have been a difficult week for the new Villa boss as he prepared for his first game in charge, with the lack of time he had on the training pitch with his entire squad hindering his efforts to get his ideas across.

READ MORE: Five big talking points as Villa seal win in Gerrard’s first game in charge

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While some key individuals also returned late from international duty and others were carrying niggles, it wasn’t ideal for him, but he made it work and got the desired result with two goals in the last 10 minutes.

Gerrard’s post-match interview was intriguing too, as he noted that he was content with Brighton having the ball in certain areas, hence their ability to control and dominate possession for large periods but without really producing clear-cut chances regularly.

Further, he also highlighted our speed in transition, and that was never more evident than with our opening goal.

13 seconds between defence and attack for Villa opener

As seen in the images below, it took just 13 seconds for Villa to go from winning the ball in our box through Marvelous Nakamba to Ollie Watkins burying his brilliant strike.

Ashley Young played a pivotal role in the goal too with his ability to break out of defence quickly and play an incisive ball into Watkins’ feet while taking four Brighton players out of the equation, and the Villa forward did the rest.

That kind of speed and accuracy will cause any team problems, and it was similar in some ways to the win over Everton in September.

That will be a key aspect of our play moving forward, particularly away from home against sides who like to play a possession-based game, but it’s hoped that we also see a more aggressive and front-foot approach at times too, especially at Villa Park.

Nevertheless, while we rode our luck on occasions, Gerrard seemingly got this one spot on in his first game.

Mings effort helps to seal Villa win

While Tyrone Mings was excellent in general and put in a captain’s performance to return to form, his effort in the lead up to our second goal was outstanding.

As seen in the images below, not only did he have the desire to keep the move alive after it appeared the opportunity had passed, but his dash back into the box got him into the right place at the right time, and he was on hand to hammer home to double our lead and secure all three points.

Mings was defensively sound throughout too, winning 75% of his duels, producing five interceptions, six recoveries and clearances apiece, while he had a passing accuracy of 81% too.

It was a performance that Gerrard would have wanted having stuck with him as captain, but much like he’ll demand of the Villa team as a whole, he’ll want to see that backed up next week against Crystal Palace as we look to put more points on the board, climb the table and show a level of consistency that will get us right up the standings competing at the level we want to be at.