Aston Villa v Southampton
Villa Park, Monday 24th November 2014
> Saints are still in second place in the Premier League
- Saints concede only their 6th League goal in 12 games
- Villa score only their 6th League goal in 12 games
- Saints fall another two points behind Chelsea
This was a strange sort of game, Saints were in complete control of midfield and Fraser Forster had little to do all game, with Villa only having one shot on target. Although dominating from the goalkeeper, right through to Villa's penalty area, that was the very area where it all went wrong. Passes were misplaced and the Villa goal might just as well have been on another planet.
Ronald Koeman had set up a very attacking team, but somehow it didn't quite work out like that. Schneiderlin returned from his injury, gained while away on international duty with France, but Steven Davis was still missing, although rumoured to be likely to be fit for the crucial Manchester City game.
From the off, Saints took complete control and just looking at the pattern of play, you would have thought that Villa were the away side. Their only ambition appeared to be to try and stop Saints scoring.
For the first 28 minutes that was the pattern of the game, but then there was a rare break and the ball found Gabriel Agbonlahor, who raced towards Saints goal with just the two central defenders and Forster to beat. It looked as if Alderweireld had it covered, but then for some reason Forster came charging out beyond the edge of the penalty area and the Belgian central defender backed off. The giant goalie hesitated and then made a right hash of trying to stop Agbonlahor, who skipped around him and tapped the ball into the now empty net. Even then, Alderweireld's despairing lunge at the ball almost succeeded.
So, that mess was Saints sixth goal conceeded in 12 Premier League games and easily the worst. The pattern of the game did not change much for the rest of the half, Saints patient build up was invariably wasted, with the final pass going astray in and around the packed Villa penalty area.
Koeman juggled the formation around at the start of the second half with Tadić moved into the centre and Long out on the right, but it didn't make a huge amount of difference. This was beginning to look like a bad day at the office, but the current Saints team are unlike anything we have seen in the last few years and just do not know how to give up.
For the majority of the second half, it was very much how things had gone before, with Saints controlling the ball and then messing up in Villa's penalty area. However, with only about ten minutes left, the excellent Ryan Bertrand beat his man on the left and found Nathaniel Clyne on the right, who then made no mistake in slotting the ball past the Villa keeper, Guzan.
The rest of the match ticked by without either keeper truly tested and when Koeman took off Long for Cork, you knew that he had settled for a point.
Two points lost, or a point gained? In truth, I was glad of a point in the end, but who knows how the game would have panned out, had Forster not dropped that clanger? Mané had one glorious shot that was tipped around the post by Guzan and there were other chances, but in the end Saints probably got what they deserved.
This sets up the game with Manchester City next weekend perfectly. City are two points behind and a win by Saints would stretch the gap back out to five points. They will need to be considerably sharper up front than they were in this match.
05 Okore - Booked
24 Sánchez (Bent 74')
28 N'Zogbia (Richardson 64')
02 Clyne - Booked
12 Wanyama - Booked
07 Long (Cork 89')
10 Mané (Mayuka 79')
Villa post-game interview with Ronald Koeman
Clyne’s post game interview
Aston Villa 1
- Agbonlahor 29′
- Clyne 81′
- Aston Villa 36%
- Southampton 64%
- Aston Villa 7
- Southampton 15
- Aston Villa 1
- Southampton 4
- Aston Villa 2
- Southampton 8
- Aston Villa 15
- Southampton 17
Referee : Phil Dowd
Attendance : 25,311
Nathaniel Clyne - 81’