Aston Villa - Southampton: The pre-match low-down

What to expect from the Saints' must-win game at Villa Park on Saturday.

Aston Villa - Southampton: The pre-match low-down
(Picture: Getty Images)

Southampton travel to Villa Park this weekend knowing that anything but a win would all but end their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.

Aston Villa have had a season of turmoil and embarrassment and their relegation to the Championship was confirmed last week following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Ronald Koeman’s side also fell short last week as they drew 1-1 with Everton at Goodison Park in a game where they were the dominant side throughout.

The key battle

The Villains haven’t had anything to get excited about this season and none of their players have earned a place to be praised.

Rudy Gestede has had to make do with only a handful of starts for Villa this season but has still proven himself to be a handful, standing at 6ft 4ins.

The Frenchman will come against arguably the Saints’ player of the season in Virgil Van Dijk.

Neither Gestede or Van Dijk will shy away from an aerial challenge and it could be the battle of the afternoon if Villa can produce something going forward.

The teams

Southampton’s season is in danger of drifting into mediocrity following that draw last weekend at Goodison Park.

Koeman will be expected to go for a fit at Villa Park on Saturday and so the Dutchman will no doubt opt for the attacking 4-2-3-1 formation with in-form striker, Graziano Pelle leading the line.

The hosts should really give the youngsters a chance to shine and many Villa fans will want to see any potential talents before their Championship campaign next season.

Villa opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation much like the Saints this season but with nothing to lose, they may as well go for it.

What it could mean to the table

A home win would mean nothing for the hosts as their relegation has been confirmed but they will no doubt want to give their fans something to cheer.

This is a must win game if Southampton want to keep their faint glimmer of hope for European football next season.

A win would see them overtake Liverpool, providing the Merseyside club slip up against Newcastle this weekend.