Southampton-Aston Villa Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Two teams embroiled in the Premier League relegation battle meet at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon when Aston Villa host Southampton.
Aston Villa have been on a terrible recent run, picking up just one point from their last four games and conceding 17 goals in those matches. Just a point clear of the relegation zone, Villa (4-7-10) suffered another setback on Tuesday night when they lost 3-1 to League Two's Bradford City in their League Cup semi-final first leg.
After the game, forward Gabriel Agbonlahor told the club's official website that the young age of the squad was no excuse for the recent run of results.
"People are saying they are young, but they are not 16 or 17," said Agbonlahor. "They are young but they have all played quite a few games and are confident.
"They are all experienced pros and we will be OK. Everyone is in it together and team spirit is good."
Saturday's visitors Southampton (4-6-10) have been on a decent run in the league, going 3-5-2 their last 10 matches to pull out of the bottom three, and will be able to concentrate entirely on avoiding the drop after a third-round cup exit last weekend.
"We did ever so well for 44 minutes. We had a good start to the game and it was a good goal from Jay Rodriguez," said manager Nigel Adkins after watching his team lose 5-1 to Chelsea. "In the second half we came up against the Cup holders and European Champions who were the team very much in form in the second half. It is fair to say that in the second half Chelsea were the better side and deserved the victory in the end.
"We will move on. We have been on a good run of form and playing some good football, which I think was demonstrated in the first half."
Villa are without Gary Gardner (knee), Richard Dunne (groin) and Stilyan Petrov (Leukaemia). Lambert may also be missing injury doubts Darren Bent (knee), Marc Albrighton (ankle), Ron Vlaar (calf) and Ashley Westwood (ankle). Southampton have injury concerns with Jose Fonte (knee), Gaston Ramirez (hip), Nathaniel Clyne (knee) and Adam Lallana (knee).
Villa have gone 280 minutes without a goal at Villa Park and have failed to find the net in three straight home league games. Their tally of eight goals at home is a league low. Eleven of Villa's 19 points have come in games when striker Christian Benteke has scored. However, Agbonlahor has just one goal in his last 34 appearances.
The Saints have drawn their last three league games and have conceded just 10 goals in their last 10 games - a stark improvement after yielding having 28 in their first 10 of the season. However, they have just five points from nine games away from home and have yet to keep a clean sheet on the road in the top-flight.
Southampton beat Aston Villa 4-1 when these teams met earlier in the season, with Bent scoring the only goal for Villa and Rickie Lambert bagging a brace for the Saints. That win was Southampton's first over the Villans since 2002, having lost three and drawn two of the five games since then.
Updated January 10, 2013