Aston Villa will be bidding to build on their draw with Manchester City last time out when they welcome Southampton to Villa Park in the Premier League on Friday evening.
Steven Gerrard’s side held the champions in their last league fixture on September 3, while Southampton will enter this contest off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on the same day.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a tough start to the campaign for Villa, who have only picked up four points from their six matches, which has left them in 17th position in the table.
Gerrard’s side lost at Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season before recording a 2-1 victory over Everton one week later, but they then lost their next three to Crystal Palace, West Ham United and Arsenal.
Villa were staring at a fourth straight Premier League defeat earlier this month when Erling Braut Haaland put the champions ahead at Villa Park, but Leon Bailey managed to level the scores in the 74th minute, and the hosts held on to secure a welcome point amid a difficult spell.
The home team had been due to face Leicester City in the league last weekend, but the match was postponed as a mark of respect following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
This game has been given the green light to go ahead, and Villa can take confidence from the corresponding game between the two sides last season, which ended in a 4-0 victory for Gerrard’s team.
Southampton, meanwhile, have made an encouraging start to the campaign, picking up seven points from six matches, which has left them in 12th position in the table ahead of this match.
The Saints started their season with a 4-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur before collecting four points from their next two games, drawing with Leeds United and beating Leicester.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side then lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United before beating Chelsea three days later; they will, though, enter this match off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Wolves at Molineux.
Southampton have only won once on their travels in the Premier League since the start of February, which is an indication of the size of their task in this match, but they have a recent away success over Villa to their name, recording a 4-3 victory at Villa Park in November 2020.
There was only one spot and five points between Villa (14th) and Southampton (15th) in the Premier League table last season, and it would not be a shock to see them close together in the division once again this term.