Southampton Remain Bottom After Villa Defeat
Southampton remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after Ollie Watkins’ second-half header earned Aston Villa a narrow win at St Mary’s.
Watkins nodded Douglas Luiz’s outswinging free-kick into the bottom corner with 13 minutes remaining as Villa claimed their fifth victory in seven league games under new manager Unai Emery.
The visitors dominated possession but were fortunate not to fall behind midway through the first half when Che Adams’ close-range effort was ruled out for offside.
Saints had the ball in the Villa net again shortly after the hour mark, but James Ward-Prowse’s deflected strike was chalked off after VAR spotted a foul by Mohamed Elyounoussi in the build-up.
Watkins’ fifth goal of the season ultimately proved decisive, as Saints’ three-match winning run in all competitions came to an abrupt end. “I’m so happy with his work and how he is helping the team,” Emery said of the former Brentford forward. “If he is scoring I think he can be feeling better and he can take confidence.
“It is not just his responsibility alone to score, it is for other players as well. But I’m so happy with him today.” Saturday’s game at St Mary’s was suspended five minutes before half-time when a drone was seen hovering above the Southampton penalty area.
Both teams were taken off the pitch by referee Michael Salisbury before re-emerging 10 minutes later once police had given the all-clear.Only Premier League leaders Arsenal have collected as many points as Villa since Emery replaced Steven Gerrard in the Villa Park hot seat last October.
The visitors were crisp in possession at St Mary’s but struggled to properly trouble Southampton early on, Emiliano Buendia and full debutant Alex Moreno both firing well wide of Gavin Bazunu’s goal inside 20 minutes.
They survived a let-off when Adams’ first-half goal was disallowed but spurned an excellent opportunity to go in front when Ramsey shot straight at Bazunu from inside the area, with Leon Bailey sending the follow-up over the crossbar. Bazunu almost gifted Villa the opener in the early stages of the second half when his miscued clearance allowed Ramsey to tee up Bailey, but the Saints goalkeeper atoned for his error by smothering the Jamaica international’s low shot.
Villa had another narrow escape when Salisbury disallowed Ward-Prowse’s effort after Elyounoussi clipped Ramsey’s ankle, but Watkins’ late header secured a third straight away league win under their new boss.
They had Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to thank for preserving their narrow lead late on, the 30-year-old parrying Moussa Djenepo’s curling shot past the far post before gathering the resulting corner.