Aston Villa will be aiming to register back-to-back wins in the Premier League when they lock horns with an in-form Southampton outfit this weekend.
After the cup ties in midweek, Premier League football returns to action this weekend. And high-flying Southampton will be hoping to carry forward their recent good run when they face off against Steven Gerrard’s inconsistent Aston Villa side on Saturday afternoon.
After a promising start to life under Gerrard, Aston Villa could not stitch together a consistent run of positive results. The Villans failed to pick up victories against relegation-threatened sides such as Leeds United, Newcastle United and Watford over last month (D1 L2). But they did return to winning ways last time out, beating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0.
Currently 13th in the table, the Midlands club will be hoping to pick up a win and close the gap to the top half of the table. However, Villa will be up against a Southampton side that will be full of confidence after some brilliant results of late. The Saints are on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions that includes a 3-2 win over Tottenham and draws against both Manchester clubs.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men go into Saturday’s game on the back of an impressive 3-1 win over West Ham United in the FA Cup. The south coast club are currently ninth in the league table and will be keen on consolidating their position with another win against Villa, having already beaten them once in the season.
Team News & Tactics
Good to see you back, Bert! 👊 pic.twitter.com/rRAZVCkh9z
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) March 4, 2022
Aston Villa could welcome Bertrand Traore back into the squad after he resumed full training this week, having recovered from a hamstring issue. Carney Chukwuemeka is also closing in on a return, but Saturday’s game comes too soon for the youngster. Marvelous Nakamba is a long-term absentee.
Steven Gerrard will set his team up in a 4-3-1-2 formation on Saturday afternoon in front of the impressive Emiliano Martinez between the sticks. Matty Cash and Lucas Digne are nailed on as the full-backs and will have the license to push forward and hit in crosses for the centre-forwards to attack. Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings will be two central defenders who need to tighten things up at the back.
Douglas Luiz ought to sit at the base of the midfield and provide further screening to the defence. John McGinn will support the Brazilian while also adding attacking impetus when on the ball. Jacob Ramsey, whose form has dipped of late, will be aiming to bounce back, starting in the third slot in the centre of the pitch.
Philippe Coutinho will be tasked with providing the creative spark for Aston Villa starting in the No. 10 role, while he will also look to provide a goal threat by himself. Ollie Watkins, who scored in the win against Brighton, will pair up alongside former Southampton striker Danny Ings up top.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Coutinho; Ings, Watkins
Alex McCarthy, Lyanco and Nathan Tella are all definite absentees for Southampton. Shane Long and Kyle Walker-Peters picked up knocks in the midweek game against West Ham United and are doubts for the trip to Villa Park. Mohamed Elyounoussi and Mohammed Salisu could return after missing the FA Cup tie due to minor issues.
Ralph Hasenhuttl is unlikely to tinker with his shape or tactics for the clash against Villa. The Saints will line up in a 4-4-2 setup again, with Fraser Forster lining up between the sticks for the visitors.
📊 Fewest losses in domestic competitions since December 1st among #PL teams:
1 – Man City, Liverpool
2 – #SaintsFC
We cookin'. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/7xy1Zf3QFT
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 4, 2022
Tino Livramento, who is attracting interest from several Premier League clubs, should return at right-back after being left out for the cup tie. Romain Perraud, who scored a screamer against Villa, should retain his spot in the side at left-back ahead of Walker-Peters, who might not be risked in light of the knock he picked up. Jan Bednarek and the returning Salisu should form the centre-back partnership.
Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse are certainties in the second line of press for Southampton. Both will look to force quick turnovers in the centre of the park, while the latter will also pose a major threat from his set-piece deliveries. Out wide, Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi should feature from kickoff against the Villans.
Che Adams, who has scored four goals in his last five away Premier League starts, is a certainty at the top. He will pair up with Chelsea loanee Armando Broja, who has been drawing a lot of attention with his performances for Southampton.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Elyounoussi; Adams, Broja
- Aston Villa have won only one of their last 11 meetings against Southampton in all competitions.
- Southampton are unbeaten in their previous six Premier League away games against Aston Villa (W4 D2).
- Aston Villa have only won three of their past ten league fixtures under Steven Gerrard, as many as in their first four after his arrival.
- Only the current top four have lost fewer Premier League matches than Southampton this season (7).
- Aston Villa striker Danny Ings scored 41 goals in 91 Premier League appearances for Southampton between 2018/21.
Player to Watch
Ollie Watkins has FINALLY scored his first goal in 2022
The drought is over. 🚰 pic.twitter.com/gkTFvPCIK1
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) February 26, 2022
After a high-flying debut campaign in 2020/21, during which he scored 16 goals, the current season has been a bit of a leveller for Ollie Watkins, who has struggled to hit the same heights this time out. The 26-year-old has managed just six goals in 23 matches so far this term, with questions being raised over his future at Villa Park as Steven Gerrard wishes to build a squad in his own image.
However, the former Brentford man offered some glimpse of form in the last game against Brighton & Hove Albion when he found the back of the net to end his six-game goal drought in the Premier League. It is now up to Watkins to build on that display and string together a goalscoring run, forcing the manager to reinstate him as the ace striker of the team over Danny Ings.
Aston Villa 1-2 Southampton
Aston Villa picked up a crucial win against Brighton last time out, but they have been largely unconvincing recently, with the positivity created early in Steven Gerrard’s tenure dissipating. On the other hand, Southampton are making all the right noises, having lost only one of their last ten league outings, with their current form making them outside contenders for a European spot.
Southampton’s away record has been disappointing this season, but momentum is on their side heading into Saturday’s contest. And with Villa not being tight enough at the back, coupled with Armando Broja’s form, the Saints could clinch another victory against the Villans to complete a league double over them.