Aston Villa and Brighton have their eye site set on the European Spots

Aston Villa will host Brighton in a matchup in the West Midlands on the final day of the 2022–23 Premier League season

(Football news) With one game remaining, Aston Villa is in the lead for Europa Conference League play, and Roberto De Zerbi’s team Brighton has guaranteed their spot in the Europa League for 2023–24. Unai Emery, a multiple-time champion of the Europa League, may not get another opportunity to showcase his prowess in the UEFA Conference League in the next season, but the former Arsenal and Villarreal manager is poised to guide Aston Villa to the most unlikely of seventh-place finishes.

Emery’s tenure at the Emirates may be best relegated to the annals of history, but the Spaniard is a strong candidate for Manager of the Year after leading the Lions to a stunning comeback from the brink of defeat last weekend at Anfield. Jacob Ramsey saved Ollie Watkins’ face with a beautiful goal from a close angle to open the scoring after seeing his teammate miss a penalty. Roberto Firmino, who is leaving Liverpool, ended his time on Merseyside with a late equaliser to force a tie.

Despite having only one victory in their previous four games, Villa is comfortably positioned in seventh place in the standings, one point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and two ahead of Brentford. If they earn all three points in front of their home crowd, they will be eligible to play in the 2023–24 Europa Conference League. Aston Villa  have won each of their last six games at Villa Park, losing only to a penalty by Harry Kane. However, while Emery’s team will have to wait to book their flights and accommodations throughout Europe, Brighton’s schedule is already being planned.

In the previous game, Roberto De Zerbi’s rising Seagulls interrupted the Manchester City championship procession to have their own celebrations in a 1-1 draw with the champions, a goal appropriate for European play blasted into Stefan Ortega’s net. Phil Foden’s first-half goal gave Pep Guardiola’s rotating team the lead, but Brighton’s equaliser from Julio Enciso gave the South Coast club a place in the Europa League for the following season as just compensation for the outstanding efforts of both their playing and non-playing staff.

It is uncertain whether sixth-placed Brighton will be able to hold onto players like Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo for their international tours, but Seagulls supporters can be confident that any good player will be replaced with the money that comes in if he decides to leave the club. It would also be a significant accomplishment to retain the renowned De Zerbi despite interest from Tottenham Hotspur.

Brighton’s inconsistent play has been evident away from home, however, as they have lost one and won one of their last six away games, losing 4-1 to Newcastle United just a few days after humiliating Arsenal 3-0. Only Brentford has kept De Zerbi’s team from scoring on the road this season. In addition, Brighton has only defeated Villa once in their seven Premier League encounters, falling to the Lions in each of their last three games. If this trend continued in the West Midlands, the Seagulls would welcome their hosts into the elite European club.

Squad Updates

Left-back Alex Moreno had to be removed from the game against Liverpool after only 12 minutes due to a thigh injury; he will now need to recover from surgery for two to three months. The final-day fixture will also be without Jed Steer and Philippe Coutinho, while Calum Chambers and Diego Carlos should return to the matchday squad after overcoming illness and a knock, respectively. Watkins will want to make up for last weekend’s mistakes and show the England manager Gareth Southgate what he is missing with a 15th Premier League goal of the season, possibly with Emiliano Buendia alongside him rather than Leon Bailey. Watkins was passed over for an England call-up for June’s Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Tariq Lamptey (knee), Jeremy Sarmiento (ankle), and Jakub Moder (knee) are all out for the time being for Brighton, who also have a big injury list heading into Sunday’s encounter. It’s also unknown whether Adam Lallana and Solly March will be able to recover from their thigh issues in time for the weekend, but De Zerbi shouldn’t take a chance on either player given that they already have a guaranteed spot in the table and that exiled custodian Robert Sanchez is still nowhere to be found with the team. After their productive efforts on Wednesday, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, Evan Ferguson, and Mac Allister possibly making his final appearance should all be reassigned to the starting XI.

Predicted Playing Xl

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne, McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins

Brighton: Steele, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, Estupinan, Caicedo, Gross, Mitoma, Mac Allister, Enciso, Ferguson


Brighton shouldn’t be sympathetic towards Villa, but with Europa League qualification secured, the Seagulls may let off the gas since they will be dealing with fatigue from midweek. De Zerbi’s team is unpredictable at home and on the road, but Villa has been nearly flawless at home recently, therefore we believe Emery’s team will prevail and qualify for the Europa Conference League to cap off an incredible rise up the league.

Aston Villa 3 – 1 Brighton

Also read: Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspurs both play a do or die game


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