MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 05:13:50| >> :120:22350:22350:
Apr 23, 2016 at 3pm UK at Villa Park
Attendance: 29,729
Aston Villa
Westwood (45', 85')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Long (15'), Tadic (39', 71'), Mane (94')

Preview: Aston Villa vs. Southampton

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park.

Last weekend, Aston Villa were officially relegated to the Championship following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The show must go on, though, and they will try to end the campaign as best as they can, starting with Saturday's game against Southampton, who are still pushing for a top-six finish.

Aston Villa

Eric Black looks downbeat during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Aston Villa on April 16, 2016© Getty Images

If getting relegated was not bad enough, things seem to be getting progressively worse for Aston Villa as they have lost two board members and one of their players could face disciplinary action.

Two days after Villa were condemned to the Championship, David Bernstein and Lord Mervyn King resigned from the board due to difficulties in communication between the members and owner Randy Lerner.

Lord King had been part of the board since February, while Bernstein had only just arrived at Villa Park last month, but both felt that their positions were untenable.

In addition to unrest in the background, Gabriel Agbonlahor is facing possible punishment after being suspended pending an internal investigation into newspaper claims that the forward was pictured with laughing gas while partying in London a few hours after Villa's relegation was confirmed.

The Midlands outfit will begin life in the Championship next season with a new manager as they continue to hunt for Remi Garde's replacement, but in the meantime, caretaker boss Eric Black is tasked with trying to find some optimism.

Matters on the pitch have not been the most encouraging as they have not tasted victory in the Premier League since February 6 when they earned a 2-0 triumph over Norwich City.

From that point on, they lost all nine of their Premier League games and only scored three goals. In fact, they have the worst attacking and defensive records in the division as they have netted just 23 goals all season and have conceded 65.

Villa have only acquired 16 points from their 34 games and are 13 points adrift of 19th-placed Newcastle United.

Before they can close the chapter of their dismal season, the Midlands outfit will take on Southampton, Watford, Newcastle and Arsenal.

Recent form: LLLLLL


Ronald Koeman gets ready for battle ahead of the Premier League game between Southampton and West Ham United on February 6, 2016© Getty Images

Ronald Koeman's side may not have anything to play for with regards to silverware, but they are pushing for a top-six finish in the standings.

The Saints are currently eighth in the table, five points behind sixth-placed West Ham United with four games left to play.

The objective at the start of the season was to push for a European place, but they have struggled for consistency of late having lost one, won one and drawn one in their last three matches in the top flight.

The Saints were slight favourites heading into last weekend's match against Everton due to the Merseyside outfit's poor form, but they could only earn a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

They looked to be staring at a defeat when Ramiro Funes Mori scored in the 68th minute, but Sadio Mane rescued a point when he found the back of the net eight minutes later.

Southampton finished last season seventh with 60 points, and they need to acquire nine more points in order to match that total, meaning that they have to win three of their remaining four games of the campaign.

Only Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City are in better form than the Saints, who have earned 11 points from their last six league fixtures.

The team have scored 45 goals this season and have kept 12 clean sheets, but they have not been that solid away from home having won just five of their 17 league games on the road.

Recent form: DWWLWD

Team News

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Leicester in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Aston Villa on September 13, 2015© Getty Images

Agbonlahor will not be in Villa's squad this weekend as he serves a suspension while the club look into claims that he may have inhaled nitrous oxide (laughing gas) while partying on the night of his club's relegation.

The forward was not meant to be available anyway as he was last week put on a 'personal fitness programme', which was to last a fortnight.

Libor Kozak has been on the treatment table since February with a fractured ankle but is working his way back into contention at Villa Park.

The forward is lacking match fitness, so is unlikely to start, but there could be a place for him in the squad this weekend.

As for the Saints, Koeman is waiting on the fitness of Jose Fonte and Victor Wanyama, who recently suffered concussion and a rib injury respectively.

Charlie Austin has been missing with a knee injury, and it is not yet certain whether or not the forward will be fit to return to the squad.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Hutton, Clark, Lescott, Cissokho; Bacuna, Westwood, Gana, Richardson; Sinclair; Ayew

Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Martina, Van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand; Wanyama, Clasie; Mane, Tadic, Long; Pelle

Head To Head

As we all know, Villa have had a torrid season, but they managed to restrict Southampton to a 1-1 draw in December.

Joleon Lescott gave the Villans some hope when he scored in the 44th minute, but Oriol Romeu managed to find an equaliser in the second half.

In the previous four meetings, Southampton earned two wins, one of which was a 6-1 drubbing, while the other two ended in draws.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Aston Villa 0-2 Southampton

It is all doom and gloom at Villa Park and for most connected with the club, they would probably prefer the season to be over and done with as soon as possible. Southampton have been inconsistent, but they have the quality among their ranks to get a result over the Midlands club. Villa have conceded in their last 11 league games, so the odds are in Southampton's favour.

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Gabriel Agbonlahor of Leicester in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Aston Villa on September 13, 2015
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Agbonlahor suspended over newspaper allegations

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States1010929
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78419
Great BritainGreat Britain56415
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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