Southampton lost three players to injury and 0-1 to Aston Villa despite attempting 20 shots thanks to the best efforts of a Mike Dean VAR.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was fortunate to have some regulars return to his side with Ryan Bertrand back from suspension and Oriol Romeu and Nathan Redmond fully fit from injury. The Southampton manager relished in the newfound flexibility and surprised many by starting James Ward-Prowse at right back and Nathan Redmond alongside Danny Ings. However, his team boost would become team bust as his players’ muscles could not hold up to open play.
Aston Villa looked to expose Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek for pace in the opening 30 minutes, but Alex McCarthy provided excellent cover. The Saints’ goalkeeper also came up with an awesome saving diving to his left side. Bednarek was particularly strong in denying Jack Grealish opportunity down the left flank when Ward-Prowse gambled forward. However, it was the Saints’ captain who would allow his International teammate behind him as Grealish delivered a cross to a wide open Ross Barkley for the halftime lead.
VAR twice bit Southampton in the rear with Matty Cash’s clear handball being overlooked because the ball hit his thigh first. Danny Ings’ late equaliser was disallowed by as small a margin as you will ever see. Question must be brought up to the pace at which the line was drawn from Ings’ shoulder as it decided the match in Villa’s favour. The fact that an offside flag was even raised in an era where sideline referees are terrified to do so adds to the mystery of VAR and its human control.
Southampton had plenty of opportunities to score and must take responsibility for not doing so. Che Adams had a perfect chance to change the game and went for more power than pace. Nathan Redmond smashed a ball over the bar from 14 yards out and Jan Bednarek was denied on a corner with multiple rebounds falling the Saints way. To add to the perfect storm, Southampton lost three first team players to injury, meaning they were minus 1 on the game for returning to fitness.
Aston Villa did not deserve to win, but they got the three points and Southampton will need to turn around and play Manchester United on Tuesday. Things are beginning to spiral a little out of control on the South Coast and righting this ship may take more than a few weeks work. Here is an in-depth look at the Saints’ player ratings from their 0-1 loss at St. Mary’s.