Match Analysis: Aston Villa 0-0 Southampton

Steven Davis of Southampton holds off Marc Albrighton and Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park on April 19, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole takes a closer look at the 0-0 draw between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park as the hosts end a run of four straight Premier League defeats.

Aston Villa ended a run of four consecutive Premier League defeats to draw 0-0 with Southampton and gain an important point in their battle against relegation.

The visitors had the better chances in the West Midlands, with Rickie Lambert spurning two in the opening five minutes and Adam Lallana and Steve Davis, against his former club, also missing good opportunities.

The result means that Paul Lambert's men are now five points and three places clear of the drop zone.

Below, Sports Mole analyses whether the result was reflective of the action at Villa Park.

Match statistics

Villa
Shots: 6
On target: 1
Possession: 32%
Corners: 5
Fouls: 11

Southampton
Shots: 3
On target: 2
Possession: 68%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 11

Was the result fair?

There would have been few complaints had Southampton left with all three points this afternoon as they had much the better of the chances and perhaps should have been awarded a second-half penalty. They did not really press for a winner late on, though, and Villa defended well to earn themselves a draw.

Villa's performance

Without Christian Benteke, the Villa attack was lacking a focal point but still possessed enough pace to trouble Southampton on the break, and Lambert set his side up to play in that manner. Ryan Bertrand joined the forward trio, of whom only Mark Albrighton could add an end product to promising bursts forward, in getting into the final third on a regular basis. The pair's delivery from their respective flanks was often excellent, the type of surface that Benteke would have thrived on, but was not suited to Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was being employed more centrally than usual. There was no plan B for the hosts, though, no creative influence who could unlock the Saints defence through the middle. At the other end, there were a few nervy moments for Nathan Baker and Brad Guzan, but the American also made a couple of good first-half saves, particularly when reacting well to his own error to thwart Davis on 31 minutes.

Southampton's performance

This was a Southampton performance which had most of the ingredients for their usual recipe for success, but not the quality in the final third. Dejan Lovren, who was excellent, and Jose Fonte dealt well with any threat to their box, while Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne were willing participants in attacks from full-back. Morgan Schneiderlin showed a great passing range in controlling the midfield along with the aid of Davis and Victor Wanyama, who is still clearly working his way back to 100% match sharpness. The only thing missing was the type of finishing that Lallana and Lambert have been producing all season, with the England pair squandering three good chances between them. Apart from that, Mauricio Pochettino will be satisfied with how things went as they earned a first point in three top-flight games.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Luke Shaw: So explosive in his forward running, Shaw won the battle of two offensive full-backs on the Southampton left by regularly pushing Leandro Bacuna back and preventing the Villa man from attacking himself. The 18-year-old exploited Bacuna's questionable positioning and used his remarkable physicality to charge up and down the wing all match, but perhaps could have been more consistent with his final ball.

Biggest gaffe

His inclusion on the six-man PFA Player of the Year shortlist this week shows that Lallana has had a great season. His magic feet alluded him, though, when he miscued the best chance of the contest into his own heel. Shaw's cross was behind him, but Lallana would usually tuck an opportunity like that away.

Referee performance

Lee Mason made the right call when ignoring crowd pressure to send off Lovren on the hour mark, only brandishing yellow when Agbonlahor was tripped breaking clear down the right. However, he got a big later decision wrong, not pointing to the spot when Bertrand handled from Clyne's cross. Mason's view may have been obstructed, but there is no excuse for his assistant failing to spot a probable penalty.

What next?

Villa: The Villans travel to Swansea City next Saturday, where victory would take them above the Welsh outfit in the table and could mathematically secure them Premier League survival.

Southampton: Their own European ambitions vanished a couple of months ago, but the Saints can still have a say in the race for a top-four finish when they visit Everton next weekend.

Steven Davis of Southampton holds off Marc Albrighton and Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park on April 19, 2014
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