- Villa leads all-time 28W-22D-22L
- Saints 2W-2D-1L since ’12 promotion
- Sides drew 1-1 in November
Southampton and Aston Villa are at different ends of the table and in surprisingly different points of form before they meet at St Mary’s to kick off the Premier League weekend on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN at 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra).
Villa needs a win to clinch Premier League safety after a dreadful start to the season, but have been much better since Christian Benteke awoke under the guide of manager Tim Sherwood.
Southampton seems almost desperate to avoid the Europa League despite its stated goal of finishing sixth. In the Top Four for much of the season, Saints have struggled in recent weeks (fortunately for them, so have Spurs and Liverpool).
One of this week’s talking points has been Villa’s Jack Grealish, who turned down a call-up to the Republic of Ireland and is a dual national (England).
What they’re saying
Villa’s Sherwood on Grealish saga: “Jack’s not made his mind up . I just think it’s good news that they all want him. If he wants guidance from me, unfortunately, I can’t give it to him. Only Jack and his family can make that decision. I don’t think it’s that Jack didn’t want to play for Ireland. He didn’t want to play for England either – and he didn’t want to play for Brazil.”
Southampton’s Harrison Reed on the table: “We’re keeping an eye on the teams around us and obviously we’ve had a bit of a wake-up call on Monday with Swansea turning over Arsenal. We know now how important it is to get these points under our belts in the last two games and that’s going to stay in our heads next season. If we end well we can then push on next year. We’ll keep pushing and doing our work on the training ground to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves.”
Saints should have too much class for Villa, even on the road, but form is an important cog in this match’s machine. Should Benteke be able to beat Jose Fonte and company, we might just see a surprise. Still, we’ll say 2-1 Southampton.