Aston Villa hammered in-form Southampton as Philippe Coutinho played a key role to lead Steven Gerrard’s side to back-to-back wins.
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Ollie Watkins scored early, then Douglas Luiz made it 2-0 before half time as Coutinho made it 3-0 in the second half and Danny Ings scored Villa’s fourth.
The win was Villa’s second in a row and moves them on to 33 points. After just their second defeat in 14 games in all competitions, Southampton remain on 35 points. Their run of five Premier League games without defeat was ended in emphatic fashion.
Aston Villa vs Southampton final score, stats
Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton
Goals scored: Watkins 9′ Luiz 44′, Coutinho 52′, Ings 54′
Shots: Aston Villa 14, Southampton 11
Shots on target: Aston Villa 9, Southampton 1
Possession: Aston Villa 38, Southampton 62
Three things we learned from Aston Villa vs Southampton
1. Coutinho destroys Saints’ press: Villa used a midfield diamond to thwart Saints’ high-press and it worked a treat. Luiz, McGinn and Ramsey did plenty of running and pressing to shut Saints down, while Coutinho floated in the gaps and caused havoc when he got on the ball. He’s only on loan from Barcelona but this was an example of the old Coutinho at work and he used to love picking Southampton apart during his time at Liverpool. It seems very likely that Villa will try to buy Coutinho permanently this summer and he looks at home as Gerrard has found the perfect role for him.
2. Watkins, Ings partnership finally flourishing: Ings set up Watkins for the opener and Ings set up two goals and scored one, as the duo worked really well off one another in this game. Finally they are flourishing as Watkins stretched the Saints defense and Ings worked his magic in the gaps he created. The 4-4-2 system suited them well and finally Ings and Watkins look like the partnership we all thought they would be.
3. Bad day at the office for flat Southampton: This was one of those games where everything went right for Villa and Saints looked sluggish and just generally had an off day. After their big win in the FA Cup in midweek against West Ham they looked tired, even though Hasenhuttl rotated the team heavily. Missing Salisu at the back was a big blow as Saints looked shaky defensively and unable to keep their high press going. They’re still having a great season and created lots of chances against Villa, but they just couldn’t take them and were off the pace. Ralph Hasenhuttl will be hoping that this was nothing more than an off day.
Man of the Match: Philippe Coutinho – Popped up in dangerous spots, could have scored a hat trick and Villa sprung into life whenever he had the ball. Class.
Villa get crucial early goal
Early on Ings found Watkins who finished superbly to give Aston Villa the lead. Watkins turned Jack Stephens inside out and although Fraser Forster got a touch on his effort, the ball flew in.
Saints pushed hard for an equalizer as Stuart Armstrong curled a shot just wide.
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Che Adams headed a cross over, while Fraser Forster denied Watkins and Philippe Coutinho flashed a shot inches wide and then Forster denied the Brazilian as Villa looked dangerous on the break.
They would go in 2-0 up at half time as a lovely ball over the top found Coutinho and he crossed for Luiz to slot home, then Coutinho should have made it 3-0 but somehow slotted wide.
Coutinho takes charge
At the start of the second half Coutinho did make it 3-0 as he wriggled past several defenders and then his shot deflected in.
Ings should have made it 4-0 soon after but Forster saved, but moments later Matty Cash crossed for Ings who slotted home to make it four.
Adams was denied by Emiliano Martinez with a fine save and Ashley Young cleared a Jack Stephens header, as Southampton tried to restore some pride but Villa eased to victory.