Southampton vs Aston Villa – Pre-game Assessment

Last season our trip to Southampton found us in a midseason lull and aiming to, at the very least, prevent the Saints getting the double over our Villans.  Ward-Prowse had been lethal in the first fixture at Villa Park picking up two goals and two assists in a 4-3 win.  Our 1-0 “revenge” victory was nowhere near a decisive win.  In fact, Southampton dominated possession and chances created, and our winner was courtesy of a little bit of Jack-magic.  After creating an opening for himself on the left, Grealish stood the ball up for Barkley to run onto in the area and pick his spot to place a header beyond McCarthy.

Come the end of season, Ward-Prowse became a transfer target for the Villa when it became apparent that we were losing Grealish to Man City.  The Saints eventually responded with a long-term contract and pay-raise to keep their talisman.  Starting this season, Southampton, with Ward-Prowse, were paradoxically performing worse than our Villans without Grealish. 

After seven games, they had no wins, four ties and three losses. While we had won three, tied one, and lost three.  Since then, as we have lost the last three in a row for zero points, they have won two and tied one for seven points and, impressively, done that with Ward-Prowse missing two of the games on a red-card suspension.

If it looks as if both teams are heading in the opposite direction, you are correct.  Of course, either team could perform a 180 degree turn at any time – such is the flux in this season in the Premier League.  That the Saints’ opponents for this mini streak were Leeds, Burnley, and Watford and their wins were both by the score of 1-0, is reassuring for our Villans.  Saints are not a threat to run us out of their park.

This is a perfect time to make sure we do not give up easy goals as we have repeatedly this season and continue to score.  The challenge for Smith is finding the fit eleven that can play together and get results.  He has not much better idea than any of us fans what that line-up is and that’s worrisome.

My prediction is 1-1.

UTV.

Aston Villa likely starting XI

Martinez; Cash, Mings, Hause; Targett, Luiz, McGinn, Nakamba, Buendia, Watkins, Bailey

Southampton likely starting XI

McCarthy, Livraimento, Bednarek, Salisu, Ward-Peters, Elyounoussi, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond, Adams, Armstrong

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