By Anthony Onifade

30th Sep, 2023 | 1:18pm

Nicolo Zaniolo could face brutal Aston Villa half-time axe after woeful first half v Brighton

Aston Villa enter the half-time break with a rampant 3-0 lead over Brighton and Hove Albion after goals from Ollie Watkins and Pervis Estupinan’s own goal but Emery may not be delighted with Nicolo Zaniolo’s absent performance.

The Villans entered such a difficult test against impressive and rampant opposition off the back of a disappointing 2-1 loss to Everton on Wednesday (27 September) and looked like a side hell-bent on correcting their wrongs in midweek.

Brighton started the better of the two sides and Villa were incredibly fortunate not to go behind inside six minutes when Pervis Estupinan ghosted in behind John McGinn, brilliantly found by Billy Gilmour with a sublime pass but his effort was comfortably saved by Emi Martinez.

Emery’s men created some great openings afterwards and Moussa Diaby should have made the most of Ezri Konsa’s superb through pass but ran into a cul-de-sack only seconds before Ollie Watkins put them ahead with his second goal in as many games after some great wing-play from Matty Cash.

The England international clinically registered his second minutes later with a trademark finish into the bottom corner after being put through by Moussa Diaby.

From then on, the Villans were up ahead in steam taking advantage of Brighton’s uncharacteristic losses of possession to spring dangerous counter-attacks.

The West Midlands bagged a third through Estupinan’s own goal but it was a half to forget for Italian international Zaniolo who was largely absent all half and it won’t be a surprise to see him chalked off for the second half, with Jacob Ramsey back in full fitness.

The on-loan Galatasaray man looked lost all game and simply could not join the likes of Diaby and Watkins in piercing through the poor Brighton defence.

As per SofaScore, Zaniolo barely touched the ball for his team with 16 touches, completing just five of his passes and failing to complete any of his three dribbles, lost 100% of his ten ground duels, lost possession of the ball nine times and registered zero key passes also giving away four fouls in a lifeless performance.

Another start for the Italian to prove his worth to Emery and show he’s on the right path to stardom at Villa Park, the former Roma forward looked a class apart from his impressive teammates.


In other Aston Villa news, an Aston Villa Women defender has been handed a club honour following the exit of one player.