Southampton were able to withhold a late fightback at Villa Park this afternoon to take all three points as Aston Villa made it two games without a win.
Dean Smith made one change from the defeat against Leeds as Bertrand Traore replaced Trezeguet, making his first Premier League appearance for Villa and 1631 days after he played his last one for Chelsea.
High press Villa’s downfall
Just as it was a week earlier, Villa’s downfall was the intensity of the high press, this time from Southampton. Smith’s tactics didn’t change and neither did the approach from the Villa players who looked flat from the off.
The away side were unlucky not to take the lead after three minutes. Former Birmingham striker thought he had given the Saints the lead but it was judged to have ruled out for offside by VAR.
The Saints came close again just a few minutes later, this time through Theo Walcott who is on loan from Everton. The ball fell to the winger who was able to get a shot away but only to be denied by the crossbar.
Ward-Prowse set-piece masterclass
Just as Villa began to grow into the game, Southampton took the lead after 20 minutes. James Ward-Prowse whipped in a free-kick as Jannik Vestergaard out jumped John McGinn and headed a powerful effort into the back of the net.
On 33 minutes, the visitors doubled their lead through Ward-Prowse. Douglas Luiz brought down Walcott on the edge of the box and the England midfielder’s perfectly executed free-kick smashed into the top corner.
Things went from bad to worse on the stroke of half time for Villa. Another Southampton free-kick, same outcome. This time it was Matty Cash who gave away a free-kick as he handballed on the edge of the box. Ward-Prowse stepped up and once again found the top corner.
Despite the first-half onslaught, Smith opted for the same eleven for the second half as his options or lack of on the bench were highlighted.
Southampton made it 4 just before the hour mark, this time through Danny Ings. The England striker found himself in aches on the edge of the box before side-footing a shot in off the bar.
A late comeback from Villa
It seemed strange that it took four goals before we witnessed a reaction from Villa. It may have had something do to with Southampton taking their foot off the gas but what could have been had we started the game as we ended it. I guess we will never know, eh?
Jack Grealish whipped in a free-kick on 62 minutes as Tyrone Mings rose above everyone to head the ball down and make it 1-4. Matty Cash, who struggled all day was replaced by Ahmed Elmohammady as Villa continued to up their game. Its amazing what difference a quicker press can make.
On the stroke of 90 minutes, Villa were awarded a penalty. Ibrahima Diallo was judged to have brought down Jack Grealish in the penalty area. Grealish handed Ollie Watkins the ball who stepped up and made it 2-4.
97 minutes on the clock and Villa have another. One again it was Grealish who as involved and he was able to curl his shot inside the near post to make it 3-4.
Sadly it was too little too late as mistakes and the ability to deal with an intense press was once again the downfall for Smith and his side.