Southampton vs Aston Villa Preview: Can Saints push closer to PL safety?

Southampton host Aston Villa this weekend and will be looking to get three more points towards Premier League safety.

They sit seven points clear of the drop zone at the moment and still look to be relatively comfortable despite three straight defeats in all competitions.

Having pushed into top-half over the Christmas period, Saints will be looking to build some momentum once again to remove any doubts and perhaps push into the pack chasing European qualification.

Aston Villa arrive on the South Coast looking to recover from a last gasp defeat to Spurs at the weekend and a loss to Bournemouth previous to that.

However, they still sit one point outside the drop zone and have shown some signs that they could still have enough to secure top-flight football for the 2020/21 campaign too.

Southampton’s English defender Jack Stephens (back-C) scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on December 18, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

Team news

Ralph Hasenhuttl confirmed on Thursday that Saints will be without all three of Nathan Redmond, Kyle Walker-Peters and Sofiane Boufal for this weekend.

Redmond has been ruled out for around 1-2 months, Walker-Peters picked up a calf complaint in training this week and Boufal hobbled off versus Burnley last weekend (via southamptonfc.com).

Villa will be boosted by the return of Tyrone Mings to their defence after he recovered from a bout of tonsillitis to train this week (via avfc.co.uk)

Keinan Davis and John McGinn are close to returning, whilst Tom Heaton and Wesley remain long-term absentees.

Why Saints will win

In their 3-1 win at Villa Park, Saints really worried Villa with their pressing from the front and this led to a routine win in the end.

Since that game, both sides have had contrasting results too and now head into this game with completely different pressures.

Saints have hauled themselves seven points clear of the relegation zone and will feel less pressure than Villa, who sit one place outside the bottom three.

Why Villa will win

If Villa can put the pressure of their own situation to one side, they could be the latest team to take advantage of Saints’ terrible home form this season.

At St Mary’s, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have only won three games and have the worst record in the Premier League currently.

A solid setup from Dean Smith that also gives Jack Grealish license to work his magic could be a recipe for success.

Predicted Saints line-up

Alex McCarthy, Yan Valery, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, Ryan Bertrand, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, James Ward-Prowse, Moussa Djenepo, Stuart Armstrong, Shane Long, Danny Ings

Predicted Villa line-up

Pepe Reina, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause, Frederic Guilbert, Matt Targett, Danny Drinkwater, Douglas Luiz, Anwar El Ghazi, Jack Grealish, Mbwana Samatta

Predicted score: Saints 2-0 Aston Villa
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