Aston Villa - Southampton Preview: Three points vital for both sides in the battle against relegation
The two teams sit just above the bottom three after failing to win in their last four Premier League matches, and will thus be aware of the importance in securing a victory
By Shane Farrington
Lowton, Clark, Baker, Bennett
Weimann, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor
Clyne, Hooiveld, Yoshida, Shaw
Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Ramirez
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert named a strong starting line-up for their 3-1 defeat to Bradford in the Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg match in midweek, but he is likely to make a number of changes.
Brad Guzan is poised to regain his spot in goal in place of Shay Given while Stephen Ireland could also be given an opportunity in midfield, with Fabian Delph the most likeliest to drop out.
Gabriel Agbonlahor should overcome a knock he picked up against the League Two side to retain his place in the starting line-up, though Darren Bent is a doubt. Key centre-back Richard Dunne (groin) and midfielder Gary Gardener (knee) remain sidelined.
As for the visitors, Nigel Adkins is also set to make a number of alterations from the team which lost 5-1 at home to Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Centre-half Jose Fonte will miss out after being stretchered off in that cup loss to the Blues, with Jos Hooiveld likely to come in as his replacement, while Nathaniel Clyne is expected to return at right-back.
Emmanuel Mayuka has now left for the Africa Cup of Nations, and Adam Lallana remains out, but forward Rickie Lambert should return either in place of Jay Rodriguez or alongside him.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Aston Villa are the joint-lowest Premier League scorers along with QPR this season - both sides finding the back of the net just 17 times from their 21 matches.
- The Midlands club also have the worst defensive record in the league - having conceded on 41 occasions.
- Villa’s 2-2 draw away to Swansea saw them end a run of three straight losses in which they conceded 15 times and failed to score.
- Despite falling behind to a Darren Bent opener, Southampton ran out 4-1 winners in the match at St Mary’s earlier in the season, thanks to a Lambert brace, a goal from Nathaniel Clyne, (pictured right), and a Ciaran Clark own goal.
- Saints have only lost two of their last 10 Premier League matches - 1-0 losses against Liverpool and Sunderland. This run has seen them take 14 points out of a possible thirty.
- Highly-rated 17-year-old left-back Luke Shaw has made 11 Premier League appearances for the Saints so far this season, and has recently expressed his desire to stay on the south cost despite links with Arsenal.
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Top 3 Predictions
Aston Villa 2-1 Southampton
- 15.33 %
Aston Villa 1-2 Southampton
- 10.98 %
Aston Villa 1-3 Southampton
- 6.18 %
|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|
|2 Mar 2014||Aston Villa 4 - Norwich City 1||EPL|
|23 Feb 2014||Newcastle United 1 - Aston Villa 0||EPL|
|11 Feb 2014||Cardiff City 0 - Aston Villa 0||EPL|
|8 Feb 2014||Aston Villa 0 - West Ham 2||EPL|
|1 Feb 2014||Everton 2 - Aston Villa 1||EPL|
|21||Jordan Nathaniel Bowery||Striker|
|33||Steve de Ridder||Striker|
The Belgium international has scored six times and made four assists in 18 Premier League games this season - proving himself as a real talent. He is now established as the club’s first-choice striker and, with the rest of the side struggling to find the back of the net, Villa will be hoping the 22-year-old's goals can fire up the table. Southampton's defence is not the tightest and therefore Benteke will feel he has a chance to add to his tally.
The 30-year-old will head into the game fresh after being an unused substitute against Chelsea. With eight goals from 20 Premier League matches, the powerful striker has shown he possesses the ability to score at the highest level, after finding the net for fun throughout England's lower leagues. Villa’s back line has been conceding plenty recently too and Lambert’s strength and ability in the air could mean they are in for another tough match.
Both sides sit just outside the relegation zone after four-game winless streaks in the league, and will thus be desperate to grab all three points as they look to move away from the bottom three. With both sets of defences struggling there could be plenty of goals but the visitors may well just edge it.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed