Southampton vs Aston Villa: Adam Armstrong uncorked a 3rd-minute lightning bolt for the only goal of the game at St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday, as Saints went to four games unbeaten in the Premier League.
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The victory sends Saints into 12th place ahead of the bulk of the weekend’s fixtures. Aston Villa, meanwhile, have lost five in a row and sit 15th in the Premier League table.
Southampton vs Aston Villa final score, stats, results
Final score: Southampton 1, Aston Villa 0
Goal scorers: Southampton (Armstrong 3′), Aston Villa (None)
Shots: Southampton 9, Aston Villa 14
Shots on target: Southampton 3, Aston Villa 3
Possession: Southampton 57%, Aston Villa 43%
3 things we learned – Southampton vs Aston Villa
1. Southampton defense a base to build on: No one has accused Ralph Hasenhuttl of being too expansive or defensively naive in the three years he’s been on the south coast of England, so it’s no surprise that Saints are enjoying a strong run of results (3W-1D-0L) on the back of the defense which has now conceded just two goals in its last four games. Alex McCarthy only had to make three saves to keep the clean sheet on Friday, and only one of them posed any real threat.
2. Aston Villa’s end product gone with Grealish: It’s becoming clearer and clearer with each passing game just how influential and important Jack Grealish was to Aston Villa as he ascended to the realm of $140-million players. Aston Villa are feeling his departure both in terms of the number of chances created, but more importantly in the quality of chances. Ollie Watkins, who is still more of an inside forward from the left, looks uncomfortable leading the line without Grealish’s service, while Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia have combined for only two goals and three assists as the creative cogs tasked with replacing Grealish.
3. Time running out for Dean Smith… question mark: On the one hand, you’d think that Dean Smith has done enough over the last three years — getting Aston Villa back to the Premier League and guiding them to an 11th-place finish in their second season back in the top flight — to have bought himself an extended grace period, but memories (and goodwill) aren’t nearly as long as they used to be in football. Fair or unfair, the clock is ticking.
Man of the Match: Adam Armstrong – It was a game with one moment of true quality, and it was as good as it was unexpected.
Southampton vs Aston Villa, highlights
Adam Armstrong puts Southampton ahead with stunning strike (goal video above)
Not the shot anyone inside St. Mary’s expected, and probably not the outcome either, but it’s exactly what Saints needed given their struggles in front of goal this season (9 goals in 10 games, 2nd-fewest in the Premier League).