Two sides way below where they want to be in the table go head-to-head in the Premier League this weekend.
Anything but a win will see Southampton spend Christmas in the relegation zone, but a victory would see them leapfrog Aston Villa, who are struggling to pull away from danger.
It’s safe to say both teams are in desperate need of the points, but Ralph Hasenhuttl is certainly the manager under more pressure.
Will Villa turn the screw on the Saints boss or can the visitors spring a surprise? Read on for our preview, predictions, team news, possible XIs and more.
When is Aston Villa vs Southampton and where can I watch live?
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday, 21 December 2019
Kick-off: 3.00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): N/A
Last five meetings: Aston Villa vs Southampton
23 April 2016: Aston Villa 2-4 Southampton (Premier League)
05 December 2015: Southampton 1-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
28 October 2015: Southampton 2-1 Aston Villa (League Cup)
16 May 2015: Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
24 November 2014: Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton (Premier League)
Aggregate Score: Aston Villa (LDLLD) 6-14 Southampton (WDWWD)
Ones to watch
Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish has arguably been Aston Villa’s most important attacking player since their return to the Premier League. He will be in the mood this weekend after missing a crucial penalty at Sheffield United last time out.
Handed a rest in midweek, Grealish could prove to be a thorn in Southampton’s side and has the potential to be a match-winner in this kind of game.
Key stat: Grealish has contributed to eight goals in the Premier League this season, scoring four and assisting four.
Southampton: Danny Ings
If Southampton are to stay in the Premier League this season, they’ll have Danny Ings to thank. The former Liverpool striker has chipped in with nine of the team’s 18 goals, which is both admirable and frustrating.
It’s frustrating because Ings must be desperate for his teammates to take the pressure off him by helping out in front of goal. In any cause, barring an injury, Ings’ form could continue for some time.
Key stat: Ings has scored nine Premier League goals this season from 15 shots on target.
Dean Smith used Tuesday’s night League Cup quarter-final against a young Liverpool side to give minutes to a number of returning players. It will be interesting to see if any of them are rewarded with starts. Tyrone Mings (hamstring), Keinan Davis (thigh) and Jed Steer (Achilles) remain sidelined.
Predicted XI: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Hause, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Hourihane; El Ghazi, Wesley, Grealish.
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Moussa Djenepo has been ruled out with a hamstring injury while Kevin Danso is a doubt because of illness. A late call is set to be made on Sofiane Boufal, while Yan Valery remains out until the New Year.
Predicted XI: McCarthy; Cedric, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond; Long, Ings.
It feels like Southampton are playing for their manager’s job every week at this point. The players appear to be behind Hasenhuttl, and that means they will dig in for a result on Saturday. It will be up to Villa to break them down, but it’s easy to envisage a bore draw here.
Scoreline prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton