Steven Gerrard was asked whether he had been given a glimpse of Aston Villa’s potential as the media quizzed him about this dramatic finale.

Fair question. Better than it first seemed, actually.

It is not just recent potential.

I have been watching football for 40-odd seasons now and Villa have arguably under-achieved in about 25 or 30 of them.

It’s a tough environment, especially these days.

The leading places and top division as a whole in English football are over-subscribed.

We have a ‘big six’ who all think they should be in the top four, with West Ham also looking to gatecrash in a way in which Leicester and Everton have attempted previously.

Newcastle’s money and Aston Villa’s high profile new boss will ramp up hopes or expectation of European football and Wolves and their fans probably now consider themselves a top seven or eight club.

There are no makeweights in the Premier League, either.

And outside the top flight, there are how many clubs – ten, 15, 20? – who probably believe they should be there.

Who probably look at Albion’s progres and think they have potential to do something similar if they make the right decisions.

So what where does that all leave the Seagulls?

In a curious position where they have the chance to enjoy their best season for 40 years, or ever, and yet it feels like there is more to come.

There has always been a suspicion that points dropped in some of their recent draws would catch up on them.

They had chances in those games. Not loads, maybe, but enough.

Here it was a lack of clear openings, especially in the second half, which concerned.

Disappointment at this defeat was made more intense by the fact they were not swept aside on a wave of Gerrard-inspired emotion, which seemed to be the script being written in the second city late last week.

More that they dealt with that environment, had possession and promising positions, looked set for at least a point, then saw it slip away as they chased all three.

And that they lost it to the type of pace and penetration they too rarely produced themselves.

So, if we saw Villa’s ability to get 40,000 belting out Sweet Caroline about 15 minutes after they been bemoaning their team’s performance, we also saw, again, Albion’s potential.

This in the most cut-throat, unforgiving league in the world.

Potter sensed his side had a chance to win going into the last ten minutes.

But he admitted: “That’s all it was, it was a chance to win.

“If you don’t score, you don’t deserve to win.

“Now, because Aston Villa have won, everyone is feeling differently but I think, up until then, we were the team who were looking likely to win.”

Potter admitted his was a biased opinion as he suggested Albion had the better chances.

Actually, there wasn’t much in it.

There were two genuine opportunities for the visitors in the first half.

The build-up on each occasion was decent but final shots by Leandro Trossard and Tariq Lamptey had to be taken instantly and were too close to Emiliano Martinez.

Jason Steele made a low save from Matty Cash’s header and was out quickly when Danny Ings found a way in behind Shane Duffy.

Steele swatted away Tyrone Mings’ header at a set-piece and Adam Webster’s patient defending meant John McGinn did not even get a shot off when Steele’s clearance of a cross fell at his feet.

That apart, Albion’s possession turned it into an eye-strain second half for the Holte End.

Then they saw Watkins heading their way and the whole story was about to change, Did Villa, with two training sessions under Gerrard involving their full squad, actually play it very cleverly?

The new boss guided us down that route in that Zoom session.

He said: “We wanted to block the middle of the pitch and when our moments came we wanted to semi-counter and full counter and wanted to hurt the opposition.


“It took until the last ten or 15 for us to look like a real threat but we have a lot of attacking players in squad who can run and who are dangerous.

“We allowed them to have the ball in certain areas of the pitch and when Brighton tried to win it from us, we made them pay.”


I am not sure it really all went as much to plan for Villa as that answer, delivered from the high ground of victory, suggested.

(In fairness, Gerrard also referred to his side suffering at times in another answer).

That is all credit to Albion but they can still aspire to better than this.

Especially in games like this, from the creative point of view. That is the exciting thing.

But it can feel like a heartbreakingly tough process at times until you pick yourelf up, put it in perspective and go again.

Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Ramsey (El-Ghazi 84); Buendia (Young 74), Watkins, Ings (Bailey 66). Subs: Steer, Sanson, Tuanzebe, Hause, Chukwuemeka, Davis.

Goals: Watkins 84, Mings 89.

Yellow card: Nakamba (59) foul, Konsa (90+3) ungentlemanly conduct, Cash (90+4) foul.

Albion: Steele; Webster, Duffy, Dunk; Lamptey (Maupay 79), Bissouma, Lallana, Gross (Mac Allister 88), Cucurella (March 64); Moder; Trossard. Subs not used: Scherpen, Veltman, Burn, Richards, Sarmiento, Locadia.

Yellow card: Cucurella (49) foul, Webster (67) foul, Mac Allister (90+3) foul.

Referee: Anthony Taylor Attendance: 41,925