Ronald Koeman’s Saints were humbled 6-1 in the Capital One Cup in midweek, and need to bounce back in front of their own fans; on paper, Villa are the ideal team to do just that.
Wednesday’s hammering by Jurgen Klopp’s resurgent Liverpool was all the more surprising given Southampton’s strong defensive record under their Dutch coach; on-loan defender Steven Caulker certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed watching the match back.
What’s more, the Saints have lost their last two fixtures in the Premier League – it was around this time last season that they had a similar blip after an excellent start, and Saints fans will be hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice.
The corresponding fixture last season created Premier League history, as Saido Mane scored a hat-trick in two minutes and 56 seconds in a match which ended in a 6-1 Southampton win.
Villa’s nightmare season continued last weekend, as their winless home run continued and they went down 3-2 against Watford at Villa Park.
Shambolic defending has been a large part of Villa’s struggles this season, as the additions of the experienced Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott have failed to stem the tide of goals being fired into Villa’s net – only Bournemouth and Newcastle have conceded more than the 27 goals that Remi Garde’s side have shipped.
The omens are not good for Villa – the fewest points a club has had after 14 games and gone on to stay up is eight; Villa have just five to their name.
For the hosts, Ronald Koeman hopes to welcome back captain Jose Fonte to the heart of his defence after the horror show against Liverpool in midweek, while Graziano Pelle should start after missing last weekend’s trip to Manchester City because of suspension.
The Villans could be missing their first-choice central defensive pairing – Ciaran Clark and Micah Richards – with the former banned and the latter struggling with a knee injury, meaning Joleon Lescott and Jores Okore could start.
Gabby Agbonlahor is fit again after a problem with his calf, but Jack Grealish will be left out of the squad for the second consecutive fixture.
League Position: Southampton – 10th (20 pts); Aston Villa – 20th (5 pts)
Last Meeting: Southampton 2-1 Aston Villa (October 28, 2015)
Form: Southampton – DDWWLL; Aston Villa – LLLDLL
Key Players: Southampton – Sadio Mane; Aston Villa – Jordan Ayew
Shoot Says: Southampton 3-1 Aston Villa