Southampton - Aston Villa Preview: Saints looking for first points of the campaign
The south coast club are looking to move off the bottom of the table after a difficult start, but will have to fight against a resurgent Villans under Paul Lambert
By Tom J Doyle
Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Fox
Schneiderlin, S Davis
Puncheon, Lallana, Ramirez
Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj
Bannan, Ireland, El Ahmadi
Southampton have three injury doubts for Saturday's match - Jos Hooiveld (calf) was forced off early last time out against Arsenal, Steve De Ridder (knock) and Jack Cork (ankle) are due back at the weekend, but are unlikely to be fit enough to face the Villans.
The heavy 6-1 defeat against Arsenal may prompt Nigel Adkins to bring in new signing Gaston Ramirez for his first start, as the playmaker showed promise upon his introduction at the Emirates.
Samir Carruthers (ankle/foot) is due to return from injury on Saturday, though he may not have enough match fitness to feature for Villa.
Richard Dunne (groin) and Marc Albrighton (metatarsal) will definitely miss out, with both still being a week away from full fitness.
Gary Gardner definitely misses out with a knee injury, while Stiliyan Petrov continues his recovery from leukaemia.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Southampton are yet to pick up a single point in the 2012-13 Premier League campaign.
- Aston Villa have only scored four times in their last ten away league games.
- Southampton have allowed 28 shots against them this season, more than any other top-flight club.
- With nine yellow cards and a red, Villa have the joint worst disciplinary record in the Premier League this season.
- After losing leads to Manchester United and Manchester City, the Saints have lost more points from winning positions (6) than any other top flight club this season.
- Southampton have conceded the joint-most goals after four games in the history of the Premier League, tying with Swindon with 14 conceded.
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Top 3 Predictions
Southampton 1-2 Aston Villa
- 12.18 %
Southampton 0-2 Aston Villa
- 12.18 %
Southampton 2-1 Aston Villa
- 11.86 %
|Premier League (EPL)||4 Dec 2013||Southampton 2 - Aston Villa 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||12 Jan 2013||Aston Villa 0 - Southampton 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||22 Sep 2012||Southampton 4 - Aston Villa 1|
|7 Dec 2013||Southampton 1 - Manchester City 1||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Southampton 2 - Aston Villa 3||EPL|
|1 Dec 2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|23 Nov 2013||Arsenal FC 2 - Southampton 0||EPL|
|9 Nov 2013||Southampton 4 - Hull City 1||EPL|
|6||Jose Rocha Fonte||Defender|
|21||Guilherme Do Prado||Midfielder|
|8||Karim El Ahmadi||Midfielder|
|21||Jordan Nathaniel Bowery||Striker|
All eyes will be on the new £12 million signing, who Saints fans hope will give their side the edge in retaining possession and holding on to games. The former Bologna man is gifted with the ball and a constant menace, and will relish in linking up with the likes of Lallana and Lambert, both of which are technically talented players. He showed flashes of skill against Arsenal, but expect him to firing on all cylinders on Saturday.
He may be the stand-out player for a reason, but Aston Villa's season may well hinge upon the England striker's accuracy in front of goal. His intelligence, positional play and finishing ability are among the best in the English game, and Bent will be itching to making an impression at St Mary's. Bent got an assist against Swansea but needs a goal to kick-start his season, and a leaky Saints defence may provide him with the perfect opportunity.
Southampton have endured a poor start to the season, yet their play has at times been scintillating, including against both Manchester clubs. Paul Lambert has given Aston Villa a tighter structure and more self-belief, but a trip to the south coast will still prove tricky. Both sides may be happy to settle for a point here.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed