McGinn axed, £24.3m-rated star drops out: Aston Villa’s predicted XI vs Brighton – opinion

If you had told Aston Villa fans before the start of the new Premier League season that they would have beaten both Liverpool and Arsenal at an aggregate of 10-2, then they surely would have thought you were crazy.

But such has been the incredible start that Dean Smith’s side have enjoyed, that they find themselves in sixth place in the table, and only three points behind current leaders Leicester – that too, with a game in hand on the Foxes.

On Saturday, Villa return to top-flight action after the two-week international break, with Graham Potter’s Brighton standing in their way. Smith has largely gone for a settled side this season, and who can blame him, but he might want to freshen things up against the Seagulls.

And with that in mind, below is a look at how the Midlands club line up for the visit of Brighton.

Aston Villas predicted line up vs Brighton - McGinn axed, £24.3m-rated star drops out: Aston Villa's predicted XI vs Brighton - opinion

After helping to keep a clean sheet against his former side last time out, Emiliano Martinez will hope to continue his impressive start to life at Villa.

In front of him, a back four of Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Matt Targett have played a crucial role in ensuring high-scoring Villa have also been one of the meanest teams in the league too. Their tally of just nine goals conceded from their opening seven league games is the joint-best in the division.

The first big call Smith must surely consider making, is the dropping of John McGinn. The Scotland international has looked nothing like his old self, and with Marvelous Nakamba waiting in the wings to make his mark, this could be the perfect time for that change to happen.

Douglas Luiz on the other hand continues to see his star grow, but has played an incredible number of minutes this season for both club and country, and Smith may wonder if a rest against Brighton could do him the world of good when it comes to the crunch winter schedule in the Premier League.

If that’s the case, Conor Hourihane may fancy his chances of making a rare start after playing in mid-week for the Republic of Ireland.

In attack, there’s no reason to make any changes for Smith, with the likes of Jack Grealish, Ross Barkley, Trezeguet and Ollie Watkins all in fine fettle this season.

Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Nakamba, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.

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