Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton
Goals: Jack Grealish (£5.9m), Matt Targett (£4.4m) | Adam Webster (£4.4m)
Assists: Frédéric Guilbert (£4.4m), Grealish | Pascal Groß (£6.4m)
Bonus Points: Grealish x3, Targett x2, Groß x1
Jack Grealish (£5.9m) continues to flourish in his new advanced role at Aston Villa.
After spending the first six matches of the season in the central midfield trio from which he operated in the Championship, the last three Gameweeks have seen Villa’s captain deployed in the front-three.
He has predominantly operated on the left of this forward line but against Brighton he swapped to the right on occasion and was perfectly placed in a central position inside the six-yard box to open the scoring in Gameweek 9.
During his last three games in this new role, Grealish now has two goals and an assist, having collected just two assists before that.
He was involved in both goals as Villa saw off a 10-man Brighton side on Saturday, for a 13-point haul, also consisting of maximum bonus.
It means Grealish has averaged 6.7 points per game since joining the front-line in Dean Smith’s 4-3-3 formation.
“The things he does are standing out more because of the quality of the teams we are up against in the Premier League. The quality of the player is there for all to see. He’s one of our top distance-coverers but also one of our top high-speed runners as well. So he’s getting there but he wants to get better. People thought that maybe [the captaincy] would be a burden for him, being a Villa fan but from what I’ve seen he likes the responsibility and he thrives on it as well. He said to me that I haven’t seen the best of him yet.” – Dean Smith
During the time that Grealish has been operating in his new role, John McGinn (£5.9m), now the same price as his English colleague, has just one attacking return and a Gameweek average score of 3.7 points.
The Scottish international does not necessarily appear to be playing in a deeper position within Villa’s central midfield trio, but it seems clear that Grealish is increasingly offering a potentially more reliable alternative into his side’s attack, especially with set pieces also to his name.
It must be said that McGinn owners can feel a little frustrated that he did not come away with an assist from Gameweek 9.
It was his pass that set up Conor Hourihane (£5.7m) to sweep home in the first half but the goal was disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) after Wesley (£6.1m) climbed on Mat Ryan (£4.7m) in the build-up.
Also keeping his place on the Fantasy radar is right-back Frédéric Guilbert (£4.4m), who provided the assist for Grealish’s goal.
It was the Frenchman’s second of the season and was the fourth consecutive home match in which he scored four points or more.
Against Everton and West Ham, he scored six points for keeping a clean sheet and it’s now two assists in as many league matches at Villa Park.
With Wesley taken off through injury in the second half, there was another substitute appearance for Keinan Davis (£4.4m) in a striker’s role.
Listed as a budget midfield in FPL, he is yet to start a Premier League match this season but could step into the side if Wesley is considered too much of a risk for Gameweek 10.
That said, amid the encouraging-looking options available at Villa, it is worth saying that their fixtures over the short and medium-term are not exactly inviting.
It’s a trip to Manchester City up next before Liverpool come to Villa Park in Gameweek 11.
After Wolves (away) and Newcastle (home), Smith’s men must travel to Manchester United (Gameweek 14) and Chelsea (Gameweek 15).
While there may be potential for a smattering of attacking returns over that difficult period, Villa defensive assets may struggle between now and Gameweek 15.
Smith’s men are now without a clean sheet since Gameweek 5 and displayed some poor defending against Brighton.
Adam Webster (£4.4m) found it way too easy to avoid Tyrone Mings (£4.6m), who had left him unmarked to nod Pascal Groß‘s (£6.4m) first-half free-kick.
Brighton struggled to offer much quality going forward outside of that as they were left with just 10 men in the 34th minute.
Aaron Mooy (£4.8m), who had already been booked moments before was foolish enough to dive in on an onrushing Grealish, catching him and picking up a second yellow card.
“I’m really annoyed with myself and sorry as I feel I’ve let my teammates and the fans down. The first yellow was just an instinct. The ball wasn’t where the foul took place and I rolled it back to the position of the foul. For the second, I genuinely felt I could make the tackle, realised I couldn’t and tried to pull out, but it was too late.” – Aaron Mooy
However, both Manchester City and Liverpool will offer much more to contend with over the next two Gameweeks.
Those left frustrated by Sergio Aguero (£12.2m), Raheem Sterling (£12.1m) and Kevin de Bruyne (£10.1m) in recent weeks might take some encouragement from Matt Targett’s (£4.4m) post-match comments on Saturday…
“We will go there and try and beat them. It has been done before, by Wolves, so that gives us confidence. We will go there and take them on, the manager has already said that.” – Matt Targett
While Villa do potentially possess the weapons to do some damage at the Etihad Stadium, an open game is exactly what backers of City attacking assets will want to perhaps ease a recent spate of captain blanks.
It is hard to assess just what state Brighton’s attack is in after being forced into playing so much of Gameweek 9 with a man disadvantage.
Graham Potter had lined up his troops in a 4-4-2 formation, Aaron Connolly (£4.5m) and Neal Maupay (£6.0m) leading the, with Mooy (left) and Groß (right) providing the width from midfield.
The Brighton manager waited until half-time to respond to the sending off, bringing versatile wide-man Solly March (£4.9m) on for Connolly to go to a 4-4-1 formation.
It will be interesting to see where Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) fits back into the equation in Gameweek 10 as he returned to the Brighton squad at Villa Park.
He has been absent since Gameweek 4 but was an unused substitute on Saturday. Capable of playing in a front-three or on the flanks, he was an incredibly bright spark in three of the opening four matches of 2019/20.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Heaton; Targett, Mings, Engels, Guilbert; Hourihane (Trézéguet 63′), Nakamba, McGinn; Grealish, Wesley (Davis 76′), El Ghazi (Do Luiz 76′).
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-2): Ryan; Burn, Dunk, Webster, Montoya (Duffy 70′); Mooy, D Stephens, Pröpper, Groß; Maupay (Alzate 81′), Connolly (March 46′).
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