Aston Villa were second best at St Mary’s as Southampton condemned Dean Smith’s side to their 16th Premier League loss of the season.
Tyrone Mings was welcomed back into the fold, as he started against the club that rejected him as a youngster. Danny Drinkwater was replaced by Marvelous Nakamba in what was, by the looks of things Villa’s strongest eleven.
Going into the game, it was a hard one to call. A Southampton side that struggled at home against a Villa side who struggle on the road. It would have been interesting to see where people put their money with the bet 2020 offer.
Lack of effort
Though through a lack of effort and application, Villa were made to pay the price as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Saints completed the double over their relegation counterparts.
Shane Long, in typical fashion, netted his ninth career goal against Villa but only his second this season inside ten minutes. Ryan Bertrand’s intended forward pass deflected off Nakamba to set Moussa Djenpo away on the left flank, and it was his crucial cross that assisted Long at the near post who directed the ball past Pepe Reina.
Djnepo was a constant thorn in Villa’s rearguard, and his invention almost doubled Southampton’s lead before half-time. His pass towards Danny Ings was intelligent and the strikers first touch exquisite, so much so that Mings was caught the wrong side of the 15 goals striker, but Reina thwarted his effort on goal.
Michael Obafemi and Che Adams later replaced Long and Ings, but the hosts continued to threaten a second goal. Kortney Hause blocked Adams’ goal-bound effort off the line as Reina made a hash of collecting Obafemi’s loose touch in the box.
For Villa, chances were at a real premium, managing just the one shot on goal against the team who have conceded the most top-flight goals at home at this point in a season since 1963.
A really disappointing afternoon was capped when Stuart Armstrong tapped in an empty net as Villa pushed for an equaliser at the death.