Southampton V Aston Villa The Preview
Friday, 5th Nov 2021 07:45
Saints look to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League when they host Aston Villa at St Mary's tonight, if they can take all three points then they could end the evening as high as 10th place, but to do that Ralph Hasenhuttl knows his side cannot afford to make any mistakes.
Five games ago some Saints supporters were starting to get jittery a 1-0 home defeat to Wolves had made many look over their shoulders and mutterings started about relegation and the manager.
But Ralph Hasenhuttl and his side had faith in themselves and the confidence that they were heading towards a spell where they could start to pick up points, that proved to be the case and the last four games have seen Saints pick up 7 points and drag themselves up the table.
Contrastingly Aston Villa have lost all of their last 4 Premier League games and now have a squad ravaged by injury and suspensions.
On paper that looks like good news for Saints but they can't afford complacency nor to slip back into their old ways of defensive lapses.
Last season we were the second worst defence in the league and Ralph has turned that around to build the foundations that we can now build on going forward.
But Villa will be a wounded animal and despite the missing players will have a backs to the wall spirit that will make it difficult for Saints.
But we our selves will have a few old scores to settle, firstly the injustices of our defeat to them at home last season where we were on the back end of a few dodgy VAR calls and of course there is the Danny Ings issue.
But truth is they aren't the side they were last season with Jack Grealish and we should be capable of beating them this time if we can put in the same resolute displays of the past few weeks and hit the target a bit more often then we could surprise a few people watching on TV.
Ralph has a full squad to pick from it seems with the return of Armando Broja and he has some big decisions to be made, does he bring back Broja or stick with the same attack that worked so well at Watford in creating chances, but in fairness didn't put them away.
Personally I think he should and hold Broja back for the final 25 minutes or so.
Aside from that choice I think the only other change he may make will be to bring back Stuart Armstrong into the side, but who does he leave out, their will be some who point the finger at Nathan Redmond, but truth is he is in the side on merit this season and doesn't deserve to drop out now.
Moi Elyounoussi could be the one to drop out, but he too has started to put in some good displays, but not quite I feel to keep out both Redmond & Stuart Armstrong.
One thing is for sure and that is Hasenhuttl will have a plethora of options to choose from off the bench and will not be short of options to change things in defence, in the centre of midfield, out wide and up front.
These options are what will make the rest of this season much different from the second half of last.
Danny Ings went to Aston Villa for a challenge and if his side lose at St Mary's then he will have that challenge as Villa could be facing a relegation battle if they are not careful.
But if Villa manager Dean Smith is to be believed Ings won't be playing in the match because of injury.
That may work in Saints favour as if he had have been on the ;pitch then he would have attracted a level of abuse that could have taken the focus off the task in hand and that is beating Aston Villa, we do not want anything to distract from that.
This is a big game for Saints win it and we could start Saturday in 10th place and with a good gap between us and the bottom 3, it would push us 4 points ahead of Villa themselves for a start.
We would not end the weekend there, but it would be good to see it as a mark of the progress we have made.
If we are to win then it is the forward who need to win us the game, they need to banish the ghost of Danny Ings into the stands, last season Ings scored 12 goals in the premier League and Che Adams got 9, this season Adams has two strike partners to help him out, their job is to get more than the 21 goals our strikers got last term, in simple terms its 7 goals each, more than that and we will be in fine fettle.
At Watford Adam Armstrong had a great game and we would be raving about him if he had put away some of the chances that he had, some of which he made for himself, he would have been man of the match by a country mile, but he wasn't far off with any of the chances and if he gets one against Villa then he could start a run of scoring that will truly put the icing on the cake.
So another night of destiny for Saints, they need to embrace it and walk off the pitch at the end with nothing left on it, no regrets and with 3 points in the bag.
Photo: Action Images
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