Aston Villa vs Southampton
There’s not a lot of hope heading into a match against high-flying Southampton, and the last time we played on a Monday ended in tears. But Villa are the masters of unpredictability, after all, and surely the Saints will slip-up at some point?
Koeman on Villa
“It’s maybe more difficult because they are now in a situation where they need the points to keep everybody quiet.
“They have some injuries, they have [Christian] Benteke suspended, that brings more pressure to the club, the coach and the players. We know Aston Villa away is a difficult one (I think he’s being ironic! – Ed). We have to prepare our game and we will see what they do.
“I think the most important thing is no difference in playing home or away. We like to dominate and we like to have the ball.”
Lambert on potential defensive line-ups
“It’s not great that we have lost three centre-halves. But the lads who play will give us everything they have got.
“Ciaran played and Roy said he did well. Jores is just coming back from an injury. He is ready to play.
“He was unfortunate with his injury. He came here and started really well and then got his bad injury. But he’s ready to go.
“Chris Herd’s back too. He’s fit again as well. So you’ve still got options there”
19th April 2014 Aston Villa 0 Southampton 0
History repeats itself and last time we played Southampton we were desperate for a win then too. A goal-less draw showed little to cheer about, although Callum Robinson made his first League substitute appearance.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 1, L 3
Southampton – Last five matches away: W 3, L 2
Villa are yet to beat Southampton at home since their 2012 promotion (D 1, L 1).
One to Watch
Graziano Pelle – the bargain of the season striker has recently earned a call-up to the Italy squad and has bagged 9 goals in all competitions this season.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
In the last transfer window everybody wanted a Southampton player and after several Summer sales they were seen as a dead cert for relegation. Credit to the Saints though – they showed shrewd replacements can help a club progress, and such progression has seen Southampton climb 2nd place in the League.
Villa’s unpredictable characteristics under Lambert have often resulted in scalps against teams high up in the table, but we’ve seen little to suggest this might occur on Monday night.
Enjoying their best start to the season, Southampton’s attacking prowess has been catching the eye – as Sunderland will attest to. But their defensive record is equally impressive. They’ve only conceded five times in the league and they’ve also allowed the fewest shots on target (24) this season. Against a goal-shy Villa side, who have failed to score in SIX of the last seven League matches it’s unlikely the Saints will be severely tested.
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
As Villa’s misfortune continues Baker, Vlaar and Senderos are the latest on the injury list for Lambert. While in the past this has resulted in bizarre CB appearances from the likes of Herd and Lowton, many Villa fans are hoping for the return of forgotten man Jores Okore. After promising displays last season this enforced change could work in Villa’s favour.
It seems a lot to ask of Lambert’s men but the earlier the Villa goals the better. 80% of Villa’s goals this season have come in the first half, and as well as this, Southampton are yet to drop any points from matches they have taken the lead in. In our case, we’ve failed to recover ANY points after falling behind in games. An energetic performance from Villa will be required to capitalise on any potential complacency from Koeman’s men.
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Villa’s depleted squad is yet another concern for Lambert, but Southampton also have absentees. Tadic and Schneiderlin were both injured on international duty – two players who have been pivotal in their success this season. Of course Southampton are on an excellent run of form but you have to imagine this will come to an end at some point.
Home games against Southampton in recent years have been tight affairs. In Lambert’s first season we lost 1-0 to a disputed penalty, while last season as mentioned above it was 0-0. It might be clutching at straws but West Ham, similarly exceeding their fan’s expectations, failed to get three points from Villa in the last game! We hung on for dear life against the Hammers at times but there was at least some degree of defensive organisation.
With Villa celebrating their 140th birthday this week it would be a shame to go another game without a win. Despite everything Villa WILL get chances to score, and if our new-look back line can keep the free-scoring Southampton at bay, there’s no reason why we can’t take all three points. UTV.
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