Southampton will welcome a struggling Aston Villa side to the St.Mary’s when the two sides will lock horns for a place in the quarterfinals of the English League Cup. Ronald Koeman’s Saints have found their way back into the league, after a tough start, picking up points now on a more regular basis. They now find themselves in eight place, with 3 wins, 5 draws and just 2 defeats in the opening ten games and will go into this fourth round encounter on the back of a well-earned point in a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
It’s been difficult few months for Aston Villa since the FA Cup final mauling at the hands of Arsenal and now it reached a point where the manager Tim Sherwood could no longer continue at the helm, resulting in a managerial sack and another lookout to find a replacement. The interim boss Kevin MacDonald will be expected to oversee proceedings with his first game, a difficult away trip to the South Coast where they conceded as many as 6 goals towards the end of last season, still fresh in memory. The Villains have hit rock bottom in the league with 8 losses in ten games and the only way as they say, is up, and a win on Wednesday could just provide the spark they so desperately need to kick-start their season.
Southampton have a couple of long-term injuries with Gardos and goalkeeper Forster ruled out for the season. They do suffer a dearth of striking options up front with both Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long sidelined until the turn of November.
Besides the managerial casualty, Aston Villa will miss a few key players in Okore (knee), Clark and Craig Gardner (hip/thigh) for the trip to St.Mary’s.
Mane set a Premier League record the least time hen the two sides met at St.Mary’s scoring the fastest ever hat-trick in the league. (2 min 56 seconds)
Southampton – DLWWDD
Aston Villa – LLLLLL
Key Men Comparison
Graziano Pelle (Southampton) v Rudy Gestede (Aston Villa)
The two towering center-forwards in Pelle and Gestede have made good starts to the league campaign, particularly Gestede, who has settled in quickly, in a new league in a team characterized by uncertainties all over the pitch. Pelle although has made the better start on paper, scoring more goals than Gestede averaging a goal in mins. Yet, Gestede has all the tools to become a successful forward in the English Premier League with his innate ability to rise the highest, comfortable in the air than most forwards in the league. The 27-year old has so far had a better shot accuracy (fewer attempts, mind) and a better success ratio when it comes winning aerial duels, which, is not really surprising.
As far as Wednesday’s knock-out game goes, these two will play a vital role for their respective sides, while a win and hence, a place in the quarter final of the league cup, can undoubtedly revitalize their respective campaigns both for the football club and on a personal level.
Koeman’s Southampton are starting to look more like Koeman’s Southampton and should have too much for manager-searching Aston Villa.
Southampton 2-0 Aston Villa