Saints vs Villa: Preview

By SFC Media Fri 21 Sep Club

There has been a common message around St Mary's following last week's heavy defeat at Arsenal.

The reality is unavoidable: having taken on last season's top three sides inside their first four games back in the Barclays Premier League, Saints sit bottom of the table without a point.

However, there remains a steely determination among the squad to make up for lost time – beginning this Saturday, when we host Aston Villa.

Indeed, Nigel Adkins' message to his players and their supporters has remained clear ever since that loss at the Emirates: the season starts here.

Villa picked up their first league win of the season at home to Swansea last weekend, giving them four points from their opening four games.

New manager Paul Lambert has reshuffled his squad considerably since arriving from Norwich in the summer, bringing in nine players since 1st July.

Among the Scotsman's new additions are Dutch international defender Ron Vlaar and £7 million striker Christian Benteke, who scored on his debut against the Swans.

Team News

Deadline-week signings Maya Yoshida and Gastón Ramírez are pushing for full debuts having made their Saints bows from the bench in the defeat at Arsenal.

Jos Hooiveld came off after less than half-an-hour of that match with a calf complaint, but is optimistic of featuring against the Villains.

Midfielder Jack Cork made his first appearance since recovering from the ankle injury he sustained in pre-season when he played for the Under-21s last Friday, so is pushing to be involved tomorrow.

Villa look set to be without England Under-21 winger Mark Albrighton, who is not yet ready to return from the broken metatarsal he suffered last month.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, re-signed by Lambert after initially being released earlier this summer, looks set to keep his place in goal after replacing Shay Given between the sticks two games into the season.

Previous Meetings

Overall, Southampton and Aston Villa have faced-off on 60 occasions in the league. 18 of those encounters have resulted in Saints win, 18 in draws and the remaining 24 have gone the way of the Villains.

Our last meeting with the Midlanders came in April 2005, when Saints were battling against relegation from the Premier League. A thrilling St Mary's encounter seemed to be heading towards a vital home win until two goals in three minutes from Nolberto Solano and a certain Steven Davis – his first as a professional – gave the Villains all three points.

The result all-but-condemned Southampton to relegation, while Davis – then just 20 years-old – went on to make a name for himself at Villa Park before heading to Fulham and Rangers then eventually signing for Saints this summer.

The last time we beat Villa was in October 2002, when James Beattie's goal was enough to see off our ten-man opponents under the floodlights at St Mary's.

The first league game between the two teams came as far back as September 1936, when Villa ran out 4-0 winners over a visiting Southampton side.

Match Information

Saturday’s referee is Jon Moss, who will be assisted by Stuart Burt and Mark Scholes. Anthony Bates is the fourth official.

Tickets remain on sale for tomorrow's match and are still available to purchase online, at the ticket office or over the booking line on 02381 780780.

Online Coverage

Make sure you follow us on Twitter for behind-the-scenes information and in-game updates, and why not like us on Facebook as well? You can also join us for live coverage right here at saintsfc.co.uk.

Nigel Adkins, Jason Puncheon and Maya Yoshida all spoke to Saints Player and the national media ahead of tomorrow's game. You can watch their one-on-one interviews and press conferences in full now.

There will be plenty more coverage following the game, too, with exclusive footage and interviews online soon after full time.

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