ASTON Villa and Southampton are locked on 15 points each in 4th and 3rd from bottom respectively ahead of their Premier League tussle in the Midlands on Saturday, and both teams will be desperate to secure the points they need to pull away from the danger zone.
The Villains are fresh from a huge 5-0 Carabao Cup quarter final triumph over Liverpool in mid-week, and though the win was secured against a reserve Reds’ outfit, the margin of the victory should provide a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the weekend.
In the Premier League, things haven’t been going quite so smoothly for Dean Smith’s men however, and a run of just one win from eight top-flight fixtures has seen Villa tumble dramatically down the standings.
Smith’s charges have been leaning quite heavily on results on their own patch this season, taking 73% (11 of 15) of the total points they have earned this season in games played in front of their own supporters.
The Premier League’s current top two, Liverpool and Leicester, are the only teams to leave Villa Park with maximum points this term, and having beaten Newcastle, Brighton and Everton already this season on home turf, Villa have already shown that they can put the squeeze on the clubs around them.
Through a combination of their away day struggles and their moral-sapping 0-1 at home to West Ham last week, the Saints self-belief is likely to be at a low ebb for their trip to Villa Park this weekend, and we’re backing the hosts to take advantage.
When you factor in recent cup fixtures, Villa’s recent home record reads four wins from six – a run that has allowed Dean Smith’s men to build some serious momentum at Villa Park.
With Villa a potent force in familiar surroundings and Southampton continuing to flounder away from St. Mary’s, the home side look worth backing at the prices available for Saturday’s game, while correct score enthusiasts are pointed in the direction of a 2-1 Villains win.
Three of Villa’s recent four wins at home saw them score exactly two goals, though their defensive record of two two clean sheets from seven at Villa Park shines an unflattering light on the team’s continuing defensive frailties.
PREDICTION: ASTON VILLA TO WIN OR DRAW