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    Southampton v Aston Villa - match preview

    by Conall Green

    Southampton host bottom club Aston Villa at St Mary’s on Saturday in what looks like an ideal fixture to bounce back after their 6-1 drubbing by Liverpool in the League Cup.

    The Saints have lost three games on the trot after their midweek humbling, which followed defeats away at Manchester City and at home to Stoke City.

    Villa have failed to win a league game since their opening day win on the south coast, defeating Bournemouth, and have accumulated only two further points since then. They also went down 2-1 to Southampton in the League Cup on October 28.

    Saints Dutch boss Ronald Koeman will be sweating on the fitness of captain and centre back Jose Fonte, who missed the Liverpool defeat with a badly cut knee sustained last weekend at the Etihad Stadium. Maarten Stekelenburg will continue in goal with Fraser Forster still missing with his long term knee injury, while Florin Gardos and Jay Rodriguez continue their recovery from knee and foot injuries respectively.

    Koeman has hinted that he may make some changes, after admitting his side have lacked balance in recent games, stating:

    “"Maybe we have to change the system, maybe we have to play more defensively. I don't like that, because I'm a manager who likes to go forward, but we will speak about that with the players what's the best to do to prepare ourselves for this Saturday."

    Remi Garde will again ignore Jack Grealish, with the youngster continuing to train with the under 21s after his nightclub indiscretion after the 4-0 defeat at Everton. Garde could be missing his first choice central defensive partnership, with Irishman Ciaran Clark suspended. One of Villa’s more accomplished performers this season, captain Micah Richards, is doubtful with a knee knock. This could see Danish defender Jores Okore feature for the first time this campaign, with Joleon Lescott the other likely deputee if Richards fails to prove his fitness. Gabriel Agbonlahor could return to offer another option in attack having missed the last three games with a persistent calf injury.

    Garde has acknowledged that Villa are in trouble, but insisted that it was not yet a crisis, and felt his side were unlucky against Watford last week. Jordan Ayew is again likely to lead the line for Villa, having notched three of their last four goals after having a difficult start to the season after his summer move from Lorient.

    Despite their current losing streak, I expecting the Saints to have more than enough to defeat Villa, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic, Shane Long and Graziano Pelle providing plenty of options to break down a makeshift Villa defence.

    The bookies agree, with the hosts odds on favourites at 8-15. Villa are huge outsiders at 6-1, while a draw is priced at 3-1. Those who fancy Graziano Pelle to add to his six league goals this season can back the big Italian to score anytime at 8-11, while Southampton (-1) looks a good value bet at 11-8.

    Prediction: Southampton 3-1 Aston Villa. The Saints to get back to winning ways and send Villa into even deeper trouble.

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    Item Reviewed: Southampton v Aston Villa - match preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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