Aston Villa edged past Southampton 1-0 at Villa Park as Steven Gerrard breathed a huge sigh of relief.
It wasn’t pretty but the home fans went home happy. For now.
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Jacob Ramsey’s scrappy first half goal was enough for Villa to grab their second win of the season as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton didn’t turn up and were totally off the pace.
Villa weren’t much better but Gerrard saw his side grind out the win to move on to seven points for the season, the same number that Saints have.
What we learned from Aston Villa vs Southampton
Villa go back to basics: After a poor run of form they went back to an ultra-defensive system to get the draw against Man City last time out and they kept that solid look for this win. Gerrard’s side weren’t pretty to watch. At all. But John McGinn scrapping away in midfield and Mings and Konsa clearing everything with a safety first approach summed up their approach. Villa hardly created a chance aside from the rebound Ramsey stuck away. They were savvy, solid and smart. That was all that was needed.
Saints lack any kind of cutting edge: They wanted to sign a striker late in the summer window and you can see why. Saints had no cutting edge throughout the game and barely created a chance. Their young players did okay but what will disappoint Hasenhuttl most is that the experienced trio of Che Adams, James Ward-Prowse and Mohamed Elyounoussi all struggled massively. This was Southampton’s worst display of the season by some distance and with so many young players there will be a lot of ups and downs as their win against Chelsea have been followed up by defeats at Wolves and Villa.
Two teams who could struggle: This was not a great game. At all. And it underlined that both of these teams may well be down in the lower reaches of the Premier League for most of this season. For Southampton they kind of expected that this season after signing so many inexperienced players. For Villa? They expected to be pushing for the top 10, at least, but on this showing, and even though they got the win, they are a long way off it.
Both teams lacked confidence on the ball but Villa played direct and tried to get their wingers as the ball as much as possible. At the end of the first half Coutinho dictated the tempo of the game as he dropped into little pockets of space and Saints’ midfield couldn’t pick him up and that is how Villa went ahead. It was a scrappy game from start to finish but Villa just had that extra bit of quality in the final third.
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Stars of the show
Philippe Coutinho: Buzzed around in the first half and made things happen as Saints gave him too much space.
Tyrone Mings: Never looked out of control and gave Villa confidence they would not concede. Emiliano Martinez was really solid too, especially after just making the game after his injury.
Kyle Walker-Peters: The only Saints player to show any real composure on the ball.
After the international break Villa head to Leeds on Sunday, Oct. 2, while Southampton host Everton on Saturday, Oct 1.
How to watch Aston Villa vs Southampton live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3 pm ET, Friday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Key storylines & star players
Perhaps Aston Villa’s tide began to turn last time out, as they drew two-time defending champions Manchester City, with Leon Bailey’s first Premier League goal canceling out Erling Haaland’s 10th for a 1-1 stalemate. Though they had just three shots and held just 28 percent of possession in the game, Aston Villa defended in unison and limited Man City to just four shots on target. Situationally, they were much sharper (and luckier, to a degree) than they had been at any point in their first five games. Aston Villa’s next clean sheet will be their first one of the season, and that’ll be the top priority for Gerrard on Friday.
As for Southampton, it was a defeat to Wolves last time out, but that came on the heels of victories over Chelsea and Leicester, and a narrow, unlucky loss to Manchester United. For a side that most, if not all, pundits predicted down near the relegation zone, it’s hard to imagine a better start to Saints’ season, as summer signings Armel Bella-Kotchap (20 years old), Romeo Lavia (18 – currently injured) and Gavin Bazunu (20) quickly find their footing and breathe new life into a club teetering on the edge.
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Matty Cash (hamstring), Jan Bednarek (loan – parent club)
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 16, 2022
Southampton team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)
You REDS! ❤️
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) September 16, 2022