Ahead of Southampton entertaining an Aston Villa side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, we took to Twitter to hear from you guys, the fans. Remi Garde has not seemed to be able to turn around The Villains’ fortunes, so will Saturday’s game at St. Mary’s be any different? Ronald Koeman’s side are enduring something of a sticky spell themselves at the moment, but will feel confident that they possess the fire-power to force their way past a leaky Claret and Blue defence. Here’s what two of our followers had to say about the upcoming match:
The hosts: Southampton – Ross Bramble
My name is Ross, I’m a lifelong Southampton fan, and I’m a third year journalism student at the University of Portsmouth (just call me Judas).
It’s been an interesting season for us so far – a slow start with a miserable exit at the hands of FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, an unbeaten run and now two bumpy defeats in the league on the trot to both Stoke and Man City. Even when we took the lead inside a minute against Liverpool, the result was completely turned on its head by full-time. There now seems to be a sense of aggravation – like we’re a game away from giving someone a thrashing. The opening 20 minutes at the Etihad were as bad as we’ve ever been under Ronald Koeman, and Stoke’s rigid defensive display the week before made for frustrating viewing.
Manager approval rating: 8/10
Don’t get me wrong, Southampton fans love Ronald Koeman. He was the overwhelming choice among fans after Pochettino’s departure, and his work with a broken squad both last season and this have been nothing short of incredible. His presence and style of play, his mannerisms and his honesty are refreshing and you’d be hard pressed to find a fan that actively dislikes the Dutchman, but there are worries. His determination to fit Maya Yoshida in at right back – despite costly errors in previous weeks, including one that led directly to City’s opener last Saturday – and frustrating performances against sides like Stoke do play against him. Still, there’s nothing but love for Koeman and his team on the south coast.
Predicting the line ups
We’ve had plenty of rotation in midfield the last few weeks, so it’s difficult to know for certain, but the smart money is probably on: Stekelenburg; Cedric, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand; Wanyama, Clasie; Mane, Davis, Tadic; Pelle. Fonte will need to pass a fitness test after a picking up a gash on his leg, however, so Caulker or Yoshida may fill his void in the centre of defence.
It’s difficult to pick one, considering you don’t seem to get one without the other, but Graziano Pelle and Saido Mane leap to mind as ones to watch. With Graziano back from his ban, he’ll be raring to go again come Saturday against a Villa defence that isn’t the sturdiest in the league. As for Mane, the man did score the fastest Premier League hat-trick in history in this fixture last season, and he’ll be just as eager to test that back line.
Most Feared Opposition Player: Jordan Ayew
What with Jack Grealish still on the naughty step, I’d have to say Jordan Ayew is the man to mark come Saturday. Though I’m a fan of Rudy Gestede, van Dijk appeared to have his number back in the Capital One Cup quarter final win back in October. After his introduction from the substitutes bench, however, Ayew looked a menace.
I never like to pin my colours to the mast with these sorts of things, and this is a very tricky game to call for me. After the past two league games, Southampton will want to show the fans that we’re still in the hunt for a European place and pick up the points we’ve been carelessly dropping in recent weeks. If Villa let us, it could be closer to last season’s 5-1 than the Capitol One Cup’s 2-1. Remi Garde has promised defensive reconsiderations after the Watford defeat, however, and may come to shut up shop. Whether it’s a cagey affair or a riot, I don’t see Villa getting three points – I’m going to go 3-0 to Southampton, but it would not surprise me to see a low score draw, either.
The visitors – Aston Villa: Alex Evans
I’m Alex, a down in the dumps Villa fan living in the South of Spain.
It’s fair to say that this season isn’t exactly going to plan! All the pre-season positivity is definitely gone and last week’s loss to Watford was another disastrous result. We’ve now lost to Stoke, WBA, Swansea at home which sees us rooted at the bottom of the table and it’s hard to see a way we stay up now.
Manager approval rating: 7/10
The 0-0 at home in Remi’s first game is the highlight of the past few months. Saying the right things off the pitch and he has handles the Grealish situation well. He has come with a decent reputation and needs to start conjuring up some French ‘magique’ fairly soon.
This is more of an aspirational formation as every Villa fan will tell you Kieran Richardson is possibly the Premier League’s worst left-back.
Guzan; Bacuna, Okore, Richards, Clark; Westwood, Gana, Sanchez; Gil, Sinclair; Ayew.
I can imagine Garde will put 3 DMs in there to attempt to stifle Saints, and look to play on the counter with Ayew up top rather than the lumbering Gestede. Seen as though we can’t defend it’s a risky strategy but it worked against Man City.
Player to watch: Micah Richards
With us being away from home one of our defenders is probably going to be most watched! Micah Richards has been our best player this season and already seems to be so passionate. His celebration last week showed his commitment to the cause and it is exactly what the rest of the team are missing. He will have his work cut out against Pelle but on his day he is a top defender.
Most feared opposition player: Dusan Tadic
Whilst Pelle gets the headlines Dusan Tadic is the one I most fear. He has the ability to unlock defences and with ours being particularly porous I can see his adding to at least one of his 3 assists or 4 goals.
Hope is about the only thing us Villa fans have left, so I will go for an ambitious 2-1 away win. We put up a much better display last week against Watford, Saints play Liverpool in the week and may get a bit complacent against us. Our only other win this season was down on the coast so why not? In reality we will probably lose 4-0.
You can follow Alex on Twitter here: @AlexWeemEvans
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