Looking for a return to winning ways, Southampton head to Aston Villa on Saturday. Prepare for the Premier League meeting with our Match Pack in association with eToro...
Aston Villa vs Southampton
Saturday 21st December, 3pm GMT
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Lee Betts, Ian Hussin
Fourth official: Darren England
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR: Simon Beck
WHICH KIT WILL SAINTS BE WEARING?
Hosts Aston Villa will be in their traditional claret and sky blue shirts, meaning Saints will be wearing their away kit of dark grey shirts with yellow trim, yellow shorts and yellow socks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Southampton’s run of five consecutive fixtures against opponents in the bottom half of the table comes to a close at Villa Park, with Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats in the Premier League.
Back-to-back wins prior to that at St Mary’s had momentarily lifted Saints out of the bottom three, and they’ll have the opportunity to do so again this weekend.
Saturday’s opponents Villa sit level on points with Southampton, with goal difference seeing them perched precariously in 17th.
Without a win in their last four league outings, they’ll be hoping Tuesday’s 5-0 win over a youthful Liverpool side in the Carabao Cup will reinvigorate their Premier League form.
Simply, a win for either side will provide a timely boost as the hectic festive fixtures begin.
Saints could be left without several players for the weekend’s trip to the Midlands, with Ralph Hasenhüttl waiting to learn the fitness of some of his squad.
Sofiane Boufal is yet to return to team training due to his ongoing toe injury, whilst Kevin Danso has been suffering with a fever. Hasenhüttl will make a decision on both players on Friday.
Definitely absent this weekend will be winger Moussa Djenepo who has picked up a hamstring injury, whilst Yan Valery has been ruled out until the New Year with a viral infection.
For Villa, goalkeeper Jed Steer remains a long-term absentee whilst Tyrone Mings and Keinan Davis will remain unavailable due to hamstring injuries.
West Ham (h) 0-1
Newcastle (a) 1-2 (Ings)
Norwich (h) 2-1 (Ings, Bertrand)
Watford (h) 2-1 (Ings, Ward-Prowse)
Arsenal (a) 2-2 (Ings, Ward-Prowse)
Liverpool (h) 5-0 (Kodjia 2, Hourihane, Boyes OG, Wesley) Carabao Cup
Sheffield United (a) 0-2
Leicester (h) 1-4 (Grealish)
Chelsea (h) 1-2 (Trézéguet)
Man United (a) 2-2 (Grealish, Mings)
Ralph Hasenhüttl: “We must not look too far ahead, we have to stay with this game at the moment. There’s an opportunity and we must grab it.
“A clean sheet will help massively. We always score away but sometimes one goal must be enough and that means you have to defend well.
“This is key to getting something and in the end, I think we’re so focused on what we’re doing and so convinced with what we are doing, we know we can take something there.”
Dean Smith: I take full responsibility for last week [defeat to Sheffield United]. My mentality will be different tomorrow.
"That's not the way I want to play football. I should have asked my team to go toe-to-toe with them."
ONES TO WATCH
Danny Ings: Despite failing to get on the scoresheet for a sixth consecutive Premier League match against West Ham last time out, Ings remained Saints’ most threatening attacking outlet.
Hitting the crossbar, post and having a goal ruled out, Ings will look to once again pose a danger to Villa’s defence.
Jack Grealish: Villa’s talisman has adjusted well to life in the rotop flight after playing a major role in helping the club to promotion last season.
Their top scorer so far this season with six goals, the attacking midfielder also boasts a joint-best five assists to his name, operating in the pocket between midfielder and attack.
Danny Ings 11
James Ward-Prowse 4
Moussa Djenepo 2
James Ward-Prowse 3
Danny Ings 3
Sofiane Boufal 3
Jack Grealish 6
Conor Hourihane 6
El Ghazi 5
HEAD TO HEAD
Played – 76
Saints – 25
Draws – 23
Aston Villa – 28
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
April 2016: Aston Villa 2-4 Saints (Tadić 2, Long, Mané)
December 2015: Saints 1-1 Aston Villa (Romeu)
October 2015: Saints 2-1 Aston Villa (Yoshida, Pelle) Carabao Cup
May 2015: Saints 6-1 Aston Villa (Mané 3, Long 2, Pelle)
November 2014: Aston Villa 1-1 Saints (Clyne)
DID YOU KNOW?
- Since they returned to the Premier League in 2012, Southampton are unbeaten in their four top-flight away games against Aston Villa (W2 D2). Saints scored as many goals in their last such game at Villa Park as they had in their previous eight combined (4).
- Danny Ings is Southampton’s top Premier League goalscorer this season with nine goals, and could become just the third player to reach double figures for the club before Christmas in a season in the competition (Matt Le Tissier 1994-95, James Beattie 2002-03).
- Excluding own goals, 15 of Southampton’s 18 Premier League goals this season have been netted by English players, the highest ratio in the division (83%). Indeed, each of their last 13 strikes have been netted by Englishmen.
NOT AT THE GAME?
There’s nothing to worry about if you can’t make it to Villa Park, because we’ve got you covered! Across our channels we’ll bring you all the action, as well as a host of behind-the-scenes access.
Check out our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com, with all of the live in-game updates and free audio commentary of the match, and be sure to follow us on social media for further updates and exclusive content: