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Aston Villa 1 v 3 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 21st December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Aston Villa The Preview
Friday, 20th Dec 2019 11:51

Not so much a must win game but one we mustn't lose after two straight defeats have put us in danger of losing touch with those above us.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has to do something different this game to stir things up in his squad after several games unchanged.

The one thing that is constant though is the poor defending and the gifting of goals as was against evidenced in West Ham's winner last weekend, but there is little Ralph can do until January and he and the club have already shown their intent to deal with this in the upcoming window.

But for now he has to persevere and as I have been saying all season it is a case of getting away with it sometimes and this needs to be one of those games.

It looks like we will be without Moussa Djenepo with a hamstring injury and this could be one enforced change and I think there could be one more.

I would make those switches to shore up the midfield, I would bring in Stuart Armstrong for Djenepo and I would consider sacrificing Shane Long up front to bring in Oriol Romeu.

That would allow us to have a solid central trio of Romeu. Hojbjerg and Ward Prowse with Redmond and Armstrong out wide, we need to get a grip of the game in the midfield, stop the opposition running at us and splitting the defence and then look to get Danny Ings involved up front.

We seem to start badly so in this one I think we need to be cautious to start with and then build on it.

These are the only two changes I would make from the starting line up against West Ham and it will leave us options from the bench including Long, Adams and Obafemi should we need to go for goals.

The main thing though is not to lose touch with those above us over the Xmas period, we know what our problem is and to be blunt if we deal with it in January by bringing in a central defender then we will stay up, if we don't then we are in trouble.

So in the next fortnight we need to keep our heads above water and be ready to surge in the New Year with some new faces, we do not want to be playing catch up.

So a game we should go in with confidence aside from our defence, but in the rest of the side we need a few to find their form, Nathan Redmond and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg have been woefully out of form in the past couple of games and owe us a big game, hopefully this will be it.

The festive season sorts out the men from the boys, we need to stand up and be counted on and off the pitch, remember a football team is for life not for Xmas.

Photo: Action Images

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TimSaint added 12:18 - Dec 20
With games v Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester on the horizon, it is imperative that we get positive results, preferably with maximum points, from the Villa and Palace games.
Winning these 2 may not even be enough to keep us in touch with those just above us. Chatting to a Villa colleague, he said they expect to win their next 3 games and push right up the league - they play us and Norwich at home and then go to Watford !! Everton are about to get a new manager, so will kick on. West Ham will always pick up points and Bournemouth will improve when they start getting their 10-12 injured players back.
Bizarrely Everton, West Ham and Bournemouth have all had wins over Chelsea in recent weeks - perhaps we will as well on Boxing Day !!

bstokesaint added 12:39 - Dec 20
I hate to be negative (however much it may seem on the contrary – a few successive seasons of repeated major failings have caused this), but I think just finding a central defender of a decent calibre might not be enough to save our backsides. Since we got back into the Premier League our midfield has been so strong. We’ve had the likes of Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Cork, Davis, Tadic and Lallana and to be honest we were properly blessed. I’m not sure our current midfield are even in the same league, both in terms of protecting the defence and creating enough. Djenepo and Boufal are without talented and can probably change games, but the players around them aren’t doing enough to get them the ball. Romeu and Hojberg need to step it up. Our core is weak and sorting that out in one window is a huge ask. We’d need a few players to hit the ground running and the rest of the current team to pick themselves up and raise their game massively.

I don’t think draws are good enough away for us now against the likes of relegation rivals. We need to make up ground and stop them doing the same at the same time. If we’ve fallen away further by Christmas we might as well start looking at a team to build for the Championship. That’s being pragmatic, not negative.

legod7 added 12:55 - Dec 20
Nick, I agree Armstrong for Djenepo , but I would have Romeu for Redmond and keep Long up top with Ings. I would also bring in your favourite player Yoshida for Stephens.

davidargyll added 16:31 - Dec 20
"...a solid central trio of Romeu. Hojbjerg and Ward Prowse..." Er, really?
If thy're solid, what does a flaky trio look like?!

highfield49 added 18:28 - Dec 20
On current form I wouldn't even have Hojbjerg on the bench. Why on earth would you want to sacrifice Long to bring in Romeu and still play captain non-existent? Get Armstrong some game time and bring on Boufal for Long around the sixty minute mark. Let's get positive!

LordDZLucan added 11:54 - Dec 21
One new central defender won't change a thing. Matches are won and lost in midfield and it is our weakness in that department that is costing us matches. I'd bring Romeu in for Hojbjerg and consider giving Jack Stephens a try in midfield.

KriSaint added 13:01 - Dec 21
Ok comments overall. I consider this match a must win and a reasonable demand on our team, which IS better on paper than theirs. Take the bloody three points, Guys.
Shane Long actually use to score vs Villa, so I´d start with him again.
Unfortunately, Dead-ric will probably be picked as right back again, so we will probably have to score 3 to win, which we can on a good day vs a defense as bad as ours if not worse.

Result 2-3 , please.

Ings, Long and JWP scoring?

allsaint54 added 14:28 - Dec 21
He's picked the same team again apart from enforced change of Armstrong for Djenep. Why oh why are Redmond, Hojbjerg & Cedric anywhere near the first team on current form. Give Adams a start to see what he can do not just 2-3 minutes. But no keep the tried & tested failures.
So unfortunately we expect the same result.

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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
Letters from Wiltshire #07 by wessex_exile

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