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Premier League: Aston Villa v Southampton

Aston Villa will be looking for an immediate response to their League Cup defeat at Bradford City when they host Southampton on Saturday.

Struggling Villa are in a horrid run of form, having won just two of their past nine matches in all competitions.

Of those two wins, one came against Championship outfit Ipswich Town in the FA Cup but Paul Lambert’s side did not fare as well against lower league opposition on Tuesday.

With a place in a Wembley final at stake, Villa were awful in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat against League Two outfit Bradford.

Villa sit 16th in the Premier League and have conceded 17 goals in their past four league fixtures.

Defenders Richard Dunne (groin), Gary Gardner (knee) and Nathan Baker (hamstring) have been on the sidelines recently and they have been made to pay, with Villa now boasting the league’s worst defence having conceded 41 goals in 21 matches.

A 4-1 loss at Southampton earlier in the season is sure to give the visitors confidence for Saturday’s Premier League encounter while they should also take heart from Villa’s terrible home record.

The 1982 European Cup winners have triumphed in front of their home fans in the league on just three occasions in the last 14 months.

And while they are struggling at the back, they have not been prolific in the final third either, scoring an equal-low 17 times in the league this season.

Belgian striker Christian Benteke has netted six of those goals and without him they would be in serious trouble.

Southampton are not exactly flying either, although as a newly promoted club their position of 17th is respectable.

They sit just goal difference above the relegation zone but no fan of Nigel Adkins’ side would be complaining if the table remains the same at the end of the season.

They will hope for a turnaround in form though, with Southampton on a winless run of five matches at the moment.

The St Mary’s Stadium outfit were thumped 5-1 by Chelsea in their last fixture, a third-round FA Cup tie at home, and despite their ability to score goals a leaky defence has regularly harmed them in their bid for survival.

Striker Rickie Lambert has netted eight Premier League goals this season but he needs more support from the likes of Jay Rodriguez (two league goals in 17 appearances) and Zambian international Emmanuel Mayuka (no goals in seven appearances) if they want to climb the table.

Rodriguez did score against Chelsea on Saturday and Adkins will have his fingers crossed that the goal gives the striker – who signed from Burnley for a reported fee of seven million pounds in the off-season – a boost in confidence.

Southampton will be without midfield playmaker Adam Lallana (knee) for at least another fortnight while defender Jose Fonte (knee) is sure to miss the relegation six-pointer after he was stretchered off against Chelsea.

The match is crucial for both sides with the loser likely to drop into the bottom three on the table.

Thu 10 January, 2013
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