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Aston Villa edges past Southampton amid VAR drama

Ollie Watkins' header condemned Southampton to a late defeat against Aston Villa that kept the Saints glued to the bottom of the table.

Aston Villa edged past Southampton at St Mary’s with a 1-0 win but all of the talk will be about a goal disallowed by VAR.


James Ward-Prowse thought he had given Southampton the lead with a deflected effort but it was disallowed after referee Michael Salisbury was asked to go to the VAR monitor as a foul was spotted by Mohamed Elyounoussi on Jacob Ramsey. He then disallowed the goal.

Ollie Watkins then headed home the winner late on from a free kick, as that was checked by VAR and he was just onside to seal a third win in their last four league games.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Unai Emery has won five of his seven Premier League games in charge since replacing Steven Gerrard in November, while Southampton remain bottom of the table but are just two points from safety and the performances have been better which will give them hope.

Lady luck not on Saints’ side

These are the kind of results which happen when you’re at the bottom of the table. Southampton thought they had gone ahead with a deflected goal in the second half but it was chalked off via VAR for a soft foul. Nathan Jones and his players were furious and that perhaps led to them switching off at a free kick as Aston Villa grabbed all three points. The fine margins have gone against Southampton in recent games and although performances are improving, they are still bottom of the table. Villa showed extra nous and experience and Saints badly need to add experience, and a clinical finisher, in the final days of the January window if they’re going to stay up. They are so close to climbing out of the relegation zone and are heading in the right direction but the nature of this defeat to Villa will sting.

Stars of show

Emiliano Martinez: Made some great stops in the second half to grab the win for Villa.

Douglas Luiz: Snapped into tackles and did the dirty work so well.

Kyle Walker-Peters: Created so many chances and such an attacking threat from wide areas.

Ibrahima Diallo: Won the ball back a lot and never stopped trying to get Saints on the front foot.

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What’s next?

Saints have two League Cup semifinals home and away against Newcastle and a home FA Cup fourth round tie against Blackpool before they are next in PL action at Brentford on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Aston Villa host Leicester City on Saturday, Feb. 4.

How to watch Southampton vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium

FULL TIME: Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa - That is a tough one for Saints to swallow. Villa edge it and they are flying under Unai Emery.

SAVE! Emiliano Martinez pushes away a great effort from Moussa Djenepo.

Orsic and Djenepo are on late on. Understandably Southampton are going for it.

GOALLL! Ollie Watkins heads home a free kick and Aston Villa lead at Southampton. After a VAR check, he was just onside. Villa 1-0 up. Can Southampton respond late on?

Southampton really unlucky not to be ahead. Seeing the replays again, that is a very harsh call on Elyounoussi.

SAVE! Emiliano Martinez with a big stop to deny Adam Armstrong after a lovely move down the right from Southampton. James Ward-Prowse with a lovely cross.

More possession for Southampton now but not much going on.

We are off in the second half and Villa have a great chance. Bazunu with a poor clearance but Villa didn’t make the most of it with a tame effort. Saints have been really sloppy in possession.

HALF TIME: Southampton 0-0 Aston Villa - The visitors have had the better chances but Saints are hanging in there. They have decent options on the bench and Nathan Jones will want to see more of an attacking threat from his side in the second half.

The game is back underway after that bizarre stoppage. A good chance for Leon Bailey as the ball comes in but he slips at the crucial moment. Villa looking much better.

SAVE! Gavin Bazunu denies Ramsey with a fine stop after a great Villa counter. Bailey then smashes the rebound over.

No goal! Che Adams somehow can’t bundle the ball home and Kyle Walker-Peters does, but they were both offside and the flag is up. Southampton close to an opener.

Nervy moment for Saints as Gavin Bazunu clatters into Jacob Ramsey in the penalty box and VAR has a look. But no penalty kick. Bazunu just got to the ball first.

Strong start for Saints as they are putting Emiliano Martinez under pressure and pushing high.

KICK OFF! The sun is out on the South Coast and Southampton are going after four wins in a row in all competitions.

Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Saints’ main man is James Ward-Prowse and he is a flourishing in a more advanced role as a No. 10. He has banged in superb free kicks against Fulham and Everton and is leading by example with five goals in his last six games in all competitions. Center back Duje Caleta-Car has been exceptional, while Kyle Walker-Peters is also back to his best and is operating out of position at left back.

Villa’s goals are coming from everywhere as Leon Bailey is looking lethal on the counter and the balance is now right in this side. They look solid enough at the back and already have a clear identity and plan. Emery is getting the best out of this talented squad and Boubacar Kamara has been outstanding in central midfield.

Southampton team news, injuries, lineup

Tino Livramento suffered a setback on his long recovery from a knee injury, while left back Juan Larios remains out. Armel Bella-Kotchap, Theo Walcott and Alex McCarthy are all close to a return. Southampton make one change as Adam Armstrong comes in, while new signings Mislav Orsic and Carlos Alcaraz will be key off the bench.

Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup

Diego Carlos remains out, while John McGinn is battling back from a hamstring injury and won’t be available. Ollie Watkins had an ankle issue but has shaken it off. Lucas Digne, Jed Steer and Ludwig Augustinsson remain out, while Matty Cash (recovery from injury) and Leander Dendoncker (suspension over) are back and are on the bench.

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