Southampton-Aston Villa Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)

A week of turmoil at Aston Villa will conclude with a visit from Southampton to Villa Park on Easter Saturday.

Villa suspended both of manager Paul Lambert's assistants in midweek, adding to the chaos at a club that has lost each of their last four league games. That lack of points for Villa (9-7-17) in recent weeks has left them four points above the relegation zone with five matches remaining, but a win against the Saints would lift them to the verge of Premier League survival.

Despite the importance of Saturday's game and a number of legal issues preventing Lambert from discussing the suspension of his assistants, the Villa boss was still questioned about the issue at length in his pre-match press conference.

"You need to appreciate that due to it being a legal investigation I can't really comment on anything," said Lambert to the massed reporters. "I've given a comment and I hope you respect that. I respect you asking the questions and I think you have to respect my answer. If you want to talk about the football side of things and results I'm happy to answer."

Saturday's visitors, Southampton (13-9-12), have been assured of a mid-table finish for some time, and even a run of five defeats in their last eight games hasn't prevented the Saints from dropping out of the top eight. A number of the squad will have one eye on the summer's World Cup and the possibility of a big transfer move after such an impressive season, but manager Mauricio Pochettino denied players such as Luke Shaw are guaranteed to be leaving in the transfer window.

"At the end of the day Luke Shaw is a player that belongs to Southampton, and it will be the club that makes the decision as to what happens with his future," said the Saints boss. "Of course there will be interest for him, but so far right now he's a player at Southampton and it looks as though it will continue that way.

"There are a lot of players who are under interest at Southampton, but they are all very happy at the football club, and most of them are under long-term contracts. They understand the situation of what it means to be a professional player in the Premier League. There's nothing really we have to speak about on that front. If there is any decision to be made, it is for the owners, not for me."

Aston Villa have injury doubts over Leandro Bacuna (hamstring), Gary Gardner (ankle) and Jores Okore (knee), while Libor Kozak (broken leg) and Christian Benteke (Achilles) are out. Southampton have concerns over the fitness of Gaston Ramirez (ankle), Artur Boruc (back) and Kelvin Davis (back), but Jay Rodriguez is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The Villans ran out 3-2 winners in a topsy-turvy game between these two at St Mary's back in December. Fabian Delph scored the crucial goal on the counter-attack in the 80th minute and won despite the Saints dominating possession and outshooting the visitors 21-6.

All three of Villa's shots on target found the back of the net.