Aston Villa vs. Southampton
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 4PM
Aston Villa will be looking to claim back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since November when they lock horns with high-flying Southampton this afternoon.
An entertaining contest could be on the cards at Villa Park, with the Saints hoping to follow up last season’s 4-3 triumph in the West Midlands with another three points.
After failing to win any of their first three league games in February, Aston Villa managed to end the month on a high when they secured a 2-0 victory away at Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.
Steven Gerrard’s men had just 33 per cent possession at the Amex Stadium, but goals either side of half time from Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins ensured that the visitors came away with their ninth top-flight win of the campaign.
Since Boxing Day of last year, Villa have endured a poor run of form in the Premier League, winning only two of their last nine matches, a run which leaves them sitting 13th in the table, 12 points behind the top seven and nine points above the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand on a number of teams above them.
Gerrard will be hoping that last weekend’s win on the South coast can act as a springboard for a much-needed positive run of form, as they bid to finish in the top 10 for the first time since 2010-11.
Success today, however, could prove challenging as they have won only two of their last 14 meetings against Southampton and they are winless in their last six at Villa Park against the Saints.
Southampton followed up 2-0 home victories in the Premier League against Everton and Norwich City with a 3-1 win against West Ham United in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday night.
Despite making nine changes to his starting lineup, in comparison to just two made by the Hammers, Ralph Hasenhuttl witnessed his side seal a safe passage to the quarter-finals thanks to strikes from Romain Perraud, James Ward-Prowse and substitute Armando Broja.
The Saints are now on course to reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the third time in the last five years.
Southampton now turn their attention back to the top flight, where they have put together an unbeaten run of five games, including three victories in their last four, in which they have scored at least twice on each occasion.
In fact, finding the net has not been a problem for the Saints in recent weeks, as they have scored in each of their last 10 Premier League matches, an impressive run which can only be bettered by league leaders Manchester City (17).
Hasenhuttl and co will be confident of extending their strong run of form against an Aston Villa side who they have beaten in each of their past three visits to Villa Park, scoring 11 goals in the process. Victory against Gerrard’s men would see the Saints consolidate ninth place and move eight points clear of their counterparts.
Aston Villa possible XI: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho.
Southampton possible XI: Forster, Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters, S. Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi, Broja, Adams.