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After failing to win any of their first three league games in February, Aston Villa managed to end the month on a high when they secured a 2-0 victory away at Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.
Steven Gerrard‘s men had just 33% possession at the Amex Stadium, but goals either side of half time from Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins ensured that the visitors came away with their ninth top-flight win of the campaign.
Since Boxing Day of last year, Villa have endured a poor run of form in the Premier League, winning only two of their last nine matches, a run which leaves them sitting 13th in the table, 12 points behind the top seven and nine points above the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand on a number of teams above them.
Gerrard will be hoping that last weekend’s win on the South coast can act as a springboard for a much-needed positive run of form, as they bid to finish in the top 10 for the first time since 2010-11.
Success on Saturday, however, could prove challenging as they have won only two of their last 14 meetings against Southampton and they are winless in their last six at Villa Park against the Saints
Southampton now turn their attention back to the top flight, where they have put together an unbeaten run of five games, including three victories in their last four, in which they have scored at least twice on each occasion.
In fact, finding the net has not been a problem for the Saints in recent weeks, as they have scored in each of their last 10 Premier League matches, an impressive run which can only be bettered by league leaders Manchester City (17).
Hasenhuttl and co will be confident of extending their strong run of form on Saturday against an Aston Villa side who they have beaten in each of their past three visits to Villa Park, scoring 11 goals in the process. Victory against Gerrard’s men would see the Saints consolidate ninth place and move eight points clear of their counterparts.
Aston Villa will be without defensive midfielder Marvelous Nakamba due to a knee injury, while Bertrand Traore‘s hamstring problem will be assessed ahead of kickoff.
Gerrard is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to his starting lineup with the same back four and midfield three set to retain their places.
Both Watkins and Danny Ings were handed starts in attack last time out, but one of them could make way for either Emiliano Buendia or Leon Bailey this weekend, while Philippe Coutinho is expected to start his sixth successive league game since joining from Barcelona in January.
As for Southampton, Nathan Tella (groin), Alex McCarthy and Lyanco (both hamstring) are all sidelined with injuries, while Kyle Walker-Peters, Shane Long and Mohammed Salisu are all minor doubts with knocks but the trio should be fit in time to feature on Saturday.
Hasenhuttl is expected to revert back to his strongest starting lineup, which could see as many as nine changes made from the side which started in midweek.
Fraser Forster will likely replace Willy Caballero between the sticks, and defenders Valentino Livramento, Jan Bednarek and Salisu are all set to return at the expense of Perraud, Yan Valery and Jack Stephens.
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In midfield, Ward-Prowse is expected to be joined by Oriol Romeu – who scored against Norwich last time out – with Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi operating on the flanks, while Broja and Che Adams are set to lead the line, replacing Shane Long and Adam Armstrong.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; S. Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi; Broja, Adams