After our bubble-bursting defeat to Leeds, Villa face an in-form Southampton side who have won three out of the last four.
Villa fans will be hoping for a quick return to winning ways but the omens are patchy at best. We’ve won just once in our last eleven games against the boys from St Mary’s, and suffered a 6-1 hammering in 2015. Historically, it’s even-steven, with Villa on 28 wins, Saints on 27, and 23 draws.
Tom Heaton is back in training but is unlikely to usurp Emiliano Martinez between the sticks. Defensively, Kortney Hause is still injured and its likely to be Cash, Mings, Konsa and Targett once again.
Elsewhere on the pitch, there are no new injury concerns, so barring any last minute tweaks the same team that lost to Leeds are likely to be given the chance at redemption on Sunday.
For Southampton, Theo Walcott can return following his enforced absence against parent club Everton last weekend. Otherwise the Saints will likely be unchanged themselves. Ex-Blues man Che Adams will be hoping to bag a goal at Villa Park, and he’ll be glad there’s no crowd to boo his every attempt!
View From the Dugout:
This week we spoke to Tom Leach from the Hampshire Live, who gave his thoughts on our upcoming encounter….
Major signing Mo Salisu hasn’t featured since his big money move from Valladolid. What are the chances of him making an appearance at Villa Park?
It’s all up in the air at the moment and could change by the time I’ve finished speaking to you, but I would not expect Salisu to start. We’re all very excited to see Mo play and have heard some really good things about him, especially from Hasenhuttl.
I am speaking to Ralph really soon, and Salisu’s fitness is top of my list. He arrived injured and has suffered some other issues since then that have delayed his debut. He made big progress during the October international break but Jannick Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek have been far to steady in recent weeks for him to get into the side, even if he was fully fit.
It would be a nice boost to see him on the bench on Sunday.
After a shaky start, Saints have won three out of the last four. What’s behind the transformation?
They were always this good in the first place, truth be told. They had a tough time adjusting to the bizarre summer they’ve just encountered. Hasenhuttl works them really hard, as we know. They even have training ground running targets and aren’t allowed to leave until they’ve reached them.
The lads were allowed a few weeks rest after their amazing run during project restart and returned only to have nine of their best players sent away on international duty. Including Danny Ings, Daniel Ward-Prowse and Stuart Armstrong.
Armstrong returned injured and Hasenhuttl then had only two days to get them ready for the season opener.
After the defeat against Spurs they were able to have their first full weeks training since July and were finally able to have some rest and appropriate time to work with their manager.
They’ve been unbeaten ever since.
Moussa Djenepo and Theo Walcott could be back in contention for Sunday’s match. Do you think they’ll feature, or will Hasenhuttl stick with a winning side?
Moussa is only a maybe but I’d be surprised not to see Theo Walcott play a part. I think Walcott will start on the bench, with Armstrong in ahead of him, but Hasenhuttl could be tempted to give Nathan Redmond a rest and play Theo on the left.
The other big question is if big signing Ibrahima Diallo will play. He has been signed to replace Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg but as he was completing the move Oriel Romeu hit the form of his life and hasn’t come down yet.
Villa haven’t had much luck against the Saints in recent years, how do you see it faring this weekend?
We all know how Southampton play under Hasenhuttl. They work really hard off the ball and their statistics on running and pressure are only bettered by Liverpool and Leeds.
I was very interested to see how Villa got on against Leeds and the full time result filled me with confidence. But Dean Smith us a good operator and will have learned some valuable lessons from the defeat to Leeds- lessons that will come in handy against Saints.
It’s going to be a close fought game but I’m going to back the Saints to continue their good form with a win.
Can we get a predicted starting XI and score?
I think Hasenhuttl will go with:
McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Ward-Prowse (c), Romeu, Armstrong, Redmond, Adams, Ings.
And I’ll go with a 3-1 win for the Saints.
This is an important game for both sides. A win for Villa lifts us back to within touching distance of the top, and consigns the Leeds game to the box of painful memories.
For Saints, a win would take them into the top six, and with their top level manager and talented squad who would then bet against them challenging for the European places?
Games between the two sides are almost always settled by the odd goal. With that in mind the game is likely to be settled by a mistake, or moment of brilliance. Don’t expect a classic, but if we can live with a side of Saints calibre it will show a considerable improvement on last seasons limp efforts.
Prediction– the head says 1-1, but I try not to listen to the voices! So a narrow 1-0 victory.