Aston Villa have faced off against Southampton 78 times. In recent years, Villa haven’t fared too well against the Saints. However, this weekend’s opponents are there for the taking, despite their seemingly safe position in the Premier League.
Villa’s last win at Southampton came in 2013 when a ‘smash and grab’ job secured Villa’s third away win of the 2013–14 campaign. The table may indicated differently, but there's no reason why Villa can’t repeat their seaside success this weekend.
In fact, there are a number of reasons why Villa should get a result at St. Mary’s . . .
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Southampton have claimed fewer points at home than any other Premier League side this season. They’ve earned just eleven points there, from three wins and two draws in the thirteen home games that the Saints have played.
Southampton have managed to lose eight matches on home turf, including losses to West Ham and Burnley. That puts the squad down in 12th, sitting precariously above the relegation scrap, with six points separating them and West Ham. Their decent away record, and Danny Ings’ excellent form — which will see him in Gareth Southgate’s plans for Euro 2020 — hasn’t been enough to give them a much-needed edge in the table.
Ings has found the net 15 times this Premier League season, nearly half of his side’s goals this season. That’s a higher percentage than any other forward in the league. His side’s reliance on the forward hasn’t translated to home points, however. Southampton’s league points average is the lowest tally after 13 top-flight home games since 1991–92.
Even more encouraging for Villa, Hasenhüttl’s Saints have conceded 30 goals in their 13 home league games this season. Shipping five in their last two at home in the Premier League, Southampton have only kept one clean at home sheet all season. They've conceded 18 more home goals than Newcastle and 17 more than Palace. Their 30 home goals conceded is the most by a top-flight side after as many games for 57 years. In 1962–63, Jackie Milburn’s Ipswich had let in just one more goal than Southampton have at this point in the season.
In contrast, Villa seem more comfortable on the road this season. They’ve scored more than Manchester United and Arsenal and have netted the ninth most away goals in the Premier League this term. Jack Grealish will no doubt be the catalyst to any sort of result Villa can muster, but the imminent return of John McGinn will be a welcome boost to Villa, even if he hasn’t set foot on the pitch yet. The midfielder’s return to full training after being sidelined since the last time Villa played Southampton— the better part of three months — is a timely boost ahead of the relegation run-in.
And while no stats can account for this, every Villan will be playing for more than just a win. With their trip to Wembley coming up next weekend, every player knows they’ll need to put on a performance that will have Dean Smith slotting them into the lineup for the League Cup final.