Aston Villa set to target two Southampton players and exploit key weakness

Aston Villa have lost four games in a row and are in desperate need of a display that can end their poor form.

Villa have only had one win in their last ten meetings with Southampton, and it arrived on their last visit to St Mary’s after Ross Barkley shot Villa in the lead with a well-placed header.

If Villa were to replicate this result, they could once again opt for an airway in order to threaten their opponent’s goal. Southampton have the league’s lowest aerial duel success rate at 41.7% and Villa are expected to look to exploit that area with their set piece ability.

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Austin MacPhee was a revelation at the start of the season with his set piece tactics, scoring important goals against Newcastle United and Manchester United.

Since then, Villa has posed less threat in these situations. However, Friday’s unmissable match is the perfect opportunity to return to this avenue which was so successful at the start of the season.

Southampton’s main source of air threat comes in the form of Mohammed Salisu who is 6ft 2in tall and has won a total of 38 air battles, with a success rate of 66.7%. Tyrone Mings is 6ft 4in tall and will need to put that advantage to good use if Villa is to pose a threat in those areas on Friday.

Villa will be without Ezri Konsa in this game due to his red card against West Ham. He will be missed for several reasons, including his success in the air this season. He won a team record of 31 air battles and also leads the success rate with 63.3%.

It will likely mean another start for Kortney Hause, who has already been a threat in front of goal on set pieces this season. He scored the winner in Villa’s last Premier League win at Old Trafford and with a success rate of 61.9% he will again be a main threat in the air on Friday.

The delivery of these stopped parts has recently disappointed Villa on several occasions. A return from Douglas Luiz, who delivered the corner where Hause scored against United, would likely fix that. His delivery was menacing, but Villa can also call on Leon Bailey, whose delivery led to the home side goal scored by Everton in the 3-0 win.

Alan Hutton recently said Villa had to “get back to basics” if they were to end their poor form. While he was referring to their pressing, a return to using set pieces as an attacking method could also prove to be effective in ending that poor form on Friday.

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