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MATCH PREVIEW

PUBLISHED
09:00 18th April 2014

PREVIEW: Aston Villa vs Saints

This weekend Saints travel to face a Villa side who despite their current standing of 14th, sit just four points above the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Saints remain four points away from equalling their finest ever Premier League points total. Victory at Villa Park would take Mauricio Pochettino’s side within six points of seventh-placed Manchester United ahead of the champions’ trip to Everton on Sunday.

Villa are burdened with the highest amount of home losses out of all teams out of the relegation zone, with their ten defeats at least three more than all of the other 17 sides.

The hosts have scored just once since losing star striker Christian Benteke to an Achilles injury ahead of their recent game against Fulham, a match which ended 2-1 to the Cottagers before Villa fell to a 1-0 setback at the hands of Crystal Palace.

Those two encounters are part of a four-game losing streak that Villa have suffered lately, following their 1-0 triumph over Chelsea. Paul Lambert’s side have since been on the receiving end of 4-1 beatings from Stoke and Manchester United.

The last four meetings between these two teams at Villa Park have produced a pair of victories for both, with Saints snatching 1-0 wins both last season and in the 2002/03 campaign.

The reverse fixture between Villa and Southampton back in December saw St Mary’s visitors grab the lead on three occasions against the run of play as Fabian Delph rifled home an eventual decider in an entertaining 3-2 win for this weekend’s opponents.

If Saints win this game they’ll equal their highest tally of victories in a single Premier League season (14 in 1997/98 and 2000/01).

Team News

Artur Boruc will be pushing for a recall after missing the last two games with a back injury. Pochettino expects to have the Pole available for selection.

Nathaniel Clyne replaced Calum Chambers in the second half of last weekend’s defeat to Cardiff, and will be hoping to hold onto his place on Saturday. Victor Wanyama is also looking for a recall. Maya Yoshida and Jay Rodriguez are also long-term knocks, whilst Gaston Ramirez has emerged as a doubt with an ankle injury.

Leandro Bacuna is set to return to Villa’s squad after missing last weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace. Manager Paul Lambert expects to have the same options as he did for that game, but will still of course be without Benteke, who will still be sidelined for around six months.

Pre-match quotes

Mauricio Pochettino:

“We were quite unlucky against Cardiff because we deserved more from that game, we did everything to win that game but it wasn’t to be for us that day.

“Now, against Aston Villa we will face a very tough and physical side, but our focus is to win.

“I don’t think it (Saints’ season) is going to peter out and to be in the Premier League next season is quite a big achievement. I think other teams would love to be in our position at this moment in time.”

Paul Lambert:

"The support from Randy [Lerner], as I’ve said before, I only ever talk about it when people ask me about it.

"He’s the owner and chairman of this club and he can do what he wants. But I still have a great relationship, forget football, talking to him is good. But everybody knows what football is like.

"I love it here. It’s a great club, great fanbase, I never came to Aston Villa to be like this. No chance. The club is too big to be where it is.

"I recognised that when I came through the door on day one. This club should not have been where it has for the last four years."

Previous Meetings

It finished 3-2 to Aston Villa at St Mary’s in December as Paul Lambert’s side ended Saints’ unbeaten home record. Gabriel Agbonlahor put the visitors ahead after 16 minutes, an advantage they held until half-time. Jay Rodriguez hit back after the break, before Villa restored their lead through Libor Kozak.

Dani Osvaldo levelled the scores again on 69 minutes, with Fabian Delph hitting a sublime winner with ten minutes remaining of a fiery contest.

Saints earned a double of league wins over Villa last season. A 4-1 win at St Mary’s in September, was followed up by a 1-0 success at Villa Park – a game settled by Rickie Lambert’s first half penalty.

The Villans were last winners here in 2005 by taking a 3-2 victory thanks to three goals in the second half, the latter of which was scored by current Saints star, Steven Davis.

Villa completed a double over Saints in that campaign, as they also took a 2-0 win on home soil.

Prior to last season, Saints were previously victorious at Villa Park in 2002 when a James Beattie penalty settled a 1-0 success against the hosts who were reduced to ten men after goalkeeper Peter Enckelman was sent off.

Saturday's game is the 71st all-time meeting between the two teams. Villa have the upper hand in previous contests with 28 victories to Saints’ 22. A further 20 games have ended all square.

Match Information

Lee Mason will referee Saturday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr L Betts and Mr M Perry. Mr S Attwell is the fourth official.

Travel Information

Be aware of ongoing rail engineering works taking place on weekends at Southampton Central. Click here to check which lines are affected.

Online Coverage

As with every First Team game, we'll be providing minute-by-minute coverage throughout the day on our official Twitter feed plus goal updates on our official Facebook page.  

You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.

Mauricio Pochettino and Rickie Lambert spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews, as well as the  press conferences in full on our video channel before the game.

After the match there will be plenty more content on saintsfc.co.uk and Saints Player, so stay tuned!

And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.