Ross Barkley was the difference as Aston Villa beat Southampton 1-0 at St Mary’s.
Ralph Hasenhuttl let Jake Vokins join Sunderland on loan, so he was dropped, whilst Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu and Nathan Redmond all returning to the Saints team. Meanwhile, Villa played with the same starting line-up as they did in their 3-2 defeat to Burnley.
A lively start is always what someone expects when watching a fixture at St Mary’s, and this game was no different. Ross Barkley and Ollie Watkins linked up well early on, but to no avail.
Then, straight down the other end, Southampton were attacking well. Danny Ings cut into the penalty area well past Douglas Luiz, and cut the ball back to Stuart Armstrong. Armstrong shot well towards goal but Matty Cash’s hand was outstretched in what looked like quite a good save at first glance from the Villa right-back! VAR reviewed the penalty appeal, which seemed a nailed-on penalty, but the decision was reversed. It is believed that the VAR claimed that the ball had slightly knocked off of the thigh of Cash and then onto his hand, rather than directly on to it.
Southampton upped the pressure, with another close chance coming as James Ward-Prowse, seemingly deputising as a right-back, whipped the ball in towards Ings but Cash headed it clear.
Ryan Bertrand had one of the best chances in the first half for the Saints – Oriol Romeu linked up well with Stuart Armstrong who played it through to the former Chelsea full-back, but his shot ended up just wide.
Villa’s first real chance of the game fell to Ollie Watkins, who controlled Matt Targett’s perfect cross but the shot was not too tricky for Saints ‘keeper Alex McCarthy to deal with.
Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead – a long ball from Matt Targett found in-form Jack Grealish who lofted the ball into the area to the head of Chelsea loanee Ross Barkley.
The first-half dominance from the hosts did continue into the second half; James Ward-Prowse’s free kick was met by the Aston Villa wall.
However, Southampton’s night was about to take a huge turn. Within the space of five minutes, both Ibrahima Diallo and Theo Walcott hobbled off with injuries and these forced changes seemed to impact the rhythm the hosts were in.
They did, however, have a huge chance on 70 minutes as Che Adams was able to flash a good strike from close range, forcing a brilliant save from Emi Martinez. Adams – on as a substitute for the injured Walcott – went for the rebound.
Jan Bednarek, Che Adams and Jack Stephens all had shots on goal in a flurry of chances for the hosts but Emi Martinez and the Villa defence had a fantastic spell of good defending and luck on their side as they clung on to 90 minutes.
When the board went up for 6 minutes of added time, the Saints were buoyed and continued to push forward. On 93 minutes, Southampton had a fantastic chance: the ball fell to Che Adams who sliced a beautiful strike towards goal, leading to an acrobatic save from Martinez. The follow-up fell to Danny Ings who bundled the ball home and celebrated what he thought was the goal that saved the Saints. However, VAR said he was offside; the bottom of his sleeve played offside by Matty Cash’s bum.
And so the Saints were left with their third consecutive defeat – the last time they lost three in a row was back in November 2019 – and they remained in the bottom half of the table. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side – with just one win in eight league games now – will be hoping to turn the tide when they head to Old Trafford later tonight (Tuesday).
FULL TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 0-1 Aston Villa (Barkley 41′).
Southampton: McCarthy, Ward-Prowse (booked), Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand, Walcott (Adams 65′), Romeu (Jankewitz 89′), Diallo (Djenepo 60′), Armstrong, Ings, Redmond. Unused Subs: Long, Valery, Ramsay, N’Lundulu, Forster, Watts.
Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, D. Luiz, McGinn, Traoré, Barkley (Nakamba 90’+6′), Grealish, Watkins. Unused Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Trézéguet, El Ghazi, Engels, Sanson, El Mohamady, Davis.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa).
Referee: Lee Mason.