Following the conclusion of this year's final international break (phew!), Southampton resumes their Premier League adventure with a trip to Villa Park as they face Aston Villa, hoping to extend their winning streak to five consecutive wins in the league.
On paper, this looks like a lopsided match with Paul Lambert's men sitting in 17th place, just a point above the relegation zone. Since their 1-0 win at Anfield against Liverpool on September 13, The Villans only managed to pick up a point in their last seven games.
Worse yet, they could not seem to find the goal either, scoring just once in those seven games. Aston Villa's combined result in those seven games reads P7, W0, D1, L6 with a goal difference of minus 14. It's no wonder that they have plunged all the way near the relegation zone with those results.
Saints, on the other hand, has been on a roll with four straight wins in the league in their last four games, a feat that they've also achieved earlier in the season.
The Saints success thus far is a testament to the wonderful job that new manager, Ronald Koeman, has done ever since he took charge of the club this past summer. Despite the sale of several first-team players, those who have been signed as a replacement looked to be astute signings.
Graziano Pellè continues to be a threat in front of goal, while Dušan Tadić has taken Premier League football like duck to water. Fraser Forster has also impressed under the stick as Southampton boast the league's stingiest defense, having conceded five goals all season.
With 17 players away on duty during the international break, the Monday night kickoff allowed Koeman's men some time for much needed rest. Now the question is, can they deliver another positive result and strengthen their top-four credentials? We shall find the answer tonight.
Villa's porous defense will be without Philippe Senderos (calf), as well as Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker who are struggling to be fit. While their poor frontline will be poorer with the absence of Christian Benteke who's still serving a three-match suspension. Fabian Delph is also ruled out of tonight's game. Alan Hutton is in line to return as he has recovered from his injury.
Steven Davis and Morgan Schneiderlin are the only injury worries for Koeman. Their absence will be keenly felt as it left The Saints only with Victor Wanyama and Jack Cork as the senior central midfielder. Shane Long could press his case as a starter as he bagged a brace in Southampton 2-0 win over Leicester City in their previous game.
Aston Villa 0 - Southampton 2
Leaky defense + dull offense meets stingy defense + great offense. A fifth straight win is a likely outcome.