In what is being labelled as both Southampton and Aston Villa’s most important matchup of their season so far, the two relegation scrappers will meet at Villa Park for a Saturday afternoon six-pointer.
Booking their spot in the semi-finals of this year’s EFL Cup in midweek thanks to 5-0 victory over essentially Liverpool’s youth side, fans around the Midlands are desperate for their team to build off of that result after watching their side endure a three-match Premier League losing run.
On the flip side, Saturday’s hosts are not the only team who are in desperate need of a pick me up.
Watching West Ham pick up a 1-0 win at St. Mary’s last weekend in what was another December six-pointer for Southampton, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men have now been hit with back-to-back defeats after appearing to turn a corner.
However, while the Saints might still find themselves sat in the bottom-three, they will take some solace from their most recent meetings against their relegation rivals.
Picking up a 4-2 win the last time they made the trip to Villa Park back in 2016, Southampton have won three of their last four meetings against Saturday’s hosts and are unbeaten in their previous six contests against the Midlands outfit. Another shock victory for the guests can be found priced at 9/5 with Betfair.
A golden chance for Villa
After booking their spot in the semi-final of this year’s EFL Cup after putting five past a Liverpool side who couldn’t field a single first-team player on Tuesday night, Villa boss Dean Smith is desperate for his side to use that result as a way to kick-start their campaign.
Watching fellow returners Sheffield United pick up a deserved 2-0 win last weekend, Saturday’s hosts have lost their last three Premier League matches on the bounce and are still at the heart of a relegation scrap.
Despite spending over £100million during the summer, the former Brentford boss finds his men only sat outside of the drop zone thanks to their goal difference and are pencilled in at 7/4 with Ladbrokes to be hit with an immediate Championship return.
Elsewhere, one man who will be recalled to Smith’s starting XI after being rested in midweek is attacking talisman and skipper, Jack Grealish.
Despite missing from the spot at Bramall Lane last week, the playmaker is in hot demand to earn an England call-up and has remained a constant for Villa this season.
Finding the net in two of his last three matches on home soil, you might be interested to know that the 24-year-old can be found priced at 21/10 with Coral to add to that tally this weekend.
Where next for Ralph Hasenhüttl?
Missing out on what was a golden opportunity to secure a route out of the drop zone last week after watching fellow strugglers West Ham snatch a 1-0 win on the South Coast, Southampton have since come crashing back down to earth after opening December on the rise.
Hit with back-to-back defeats and booed off by the St. Mary’s faithful last week, the pressure is firmly back on Head Coach Ralph Hasenhüttl.
With the former RB Leipzig boss also finding his side priced at 7/4 with Paddy Power to be hit with the drop this season, you might also be interested to know that the 52-year-old can be found at 10/3 with William Hill to be the next manager given the boot.
Along with failing to find the net against the Hammers last week, Southampton have a growing reputation for their struggles at the back.
With no side in England’s top-flight holding a worse defensive return nearing closer to Christmas, it should also be noted that the Saints have shipped at least a pair of goals in each of their last four matches on the road.
Saturday’s guests can be found at 10/11 with 888sport to suffer a similar fate and ship over 1.5 goals at Villa Park this weekend.