Aston Villa vs. Southampton  0 - 1


Penalty decision angers Lambert

12 January 2013 18:59

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has slammed referee Mark Halsey for his decision to award Southampton a penalty in his side's 1-0 loss.

Rickie Lambert converted the spot-kick, given to Southampton despite Enda Stevens appearing to make no contact with Jay Rodriguez at Villa Park on Saturday.

The loss sent Villa into the relegation zone in the English Premier League and further increases the pressure on the under-fire Lambert.

Lambert said Halsey would be embarrassed by his decision and felt the 51-year-old was uncertain when making the call.

"It's nowhere near it. You've got to be 100 percent certain to give a penalty, and when Mark sees that I think he'll be embarrassed by it," Lambert told Sky Sports.

"He can't guess – you certainly can't do that in a game of that magnitude. You have to be 100 percent right, and to me that was a guess."

Villa's loss extended their woeful run of form in the league since a 3-1 win at Liverpool on December 15.

Lambert's side have only collected one point of a possible 15 since – conceding 18 goals in the process.

"It's disappointing, but that's the way things seem to be going for us at the moment. We don't seem to be getting the little breaks," Lambert said.

"We had loads of chances, but if we keep that effort up and that commitment – that's the way to play the game of football.

"We're getting kicked all over the place at the minute, but you keep battling through and meeting the challenge head on. The crowd again were excellent, right behind us."

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins defended Rodriguez for going down, but believes his side were due a favourable decision.

He told BBC Sport: "We could have had seven or eight penalties this season, and they say it levels out.

"For me there is no contact with the player, but the referee has a decision to make. All we can do at our place is make sure the players are not diving.

"We expect the players to behave properly. It is not a dive from Jay Rodriguez. There was no contact, but if the player had not moved his leg away, there would have been contact."


Premier League: Aston Villa 0 Southampton 1

12 January 2013 18:22

Southampton earned a vital three points as they overcame fellow English Premier League strugglers Aston Villa 1-0 on Saturday.

Defeat sees Villa plunge further into trouble following a disappointing display, but Southampton were deserving of their victory after producing a fine away performance.

Rickie Lambert netted the only goal of the encounter, striking from the spot in the 34th minute after the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty.

Aston Villa controlled most of the first half, with star striker Christian Benteke and Charles N'Zogbia looking lively in the early stages.

It was Benteke who created the game's first chance six minutes in, when he curled an effort just over from the edge of the area.

That proved to be the only real opportunity the home side enjoyed, and it was the visitors – who were always a danger on the counter-attack – that made the better opportunities, Jay Rodriguez, Lambert and Luke Shaw all going close for Nigel Adkins' side.

Southampton were promptly rewarded for their dominance just over 10 minutes before the interval as Lambert stepped up to convert from the penalty spot after Enda Stevens was ruled to have fouled Rodriguez.

Replays suggested Stevens made no contact with Rodriguez.

Villa offered little response and Southampton went close to doubling their lead minutes later when Shaw strode past Matthew Lowton before seeing his powerful effort saved by Brad Guzan.

The hosts approached the second half with renewed energy and vigour, Lowton, Andreas Weimann and Benteke all having chances as Paul Lambert's men desperately searched for an equaliser.

It was Southampton who always looked the more likely to score and they again went close to adding a second when Jason Puncheon crashed an effort against the post.

The visitors did suffer a blow when Shaw was stretchered off following a collision with Lowton, and that seemed to weaken Southampton defensively as Villa piled on the pressure in the closing stages.

Benteke headed over from point-blank range, before Nathan Baker headed against the bar from a corner.

Despite all of their possession and territory, Villa were unable to find a leveller as Southampton held on to earn a much-needed triumph.


Pressure is on Villa, says Rodriguez

12 January 2013 14:53

Southampton forward Jay Rodriguez believes Aston Villa are there for the taking when his side visit on Saturday.

Villa are flirting with relegation, and come into the match on the back of a shock 3-1 defeat to League Two side Bradford City on Tuesday.

The clash has been billed a 'six-pointer' in some quarters, but Rodriguez insists all the pressure is on the struggling home side.

"I think Villa are there for the taking," he told The Mirror. "There is more pressure on them than there is on us, because they are a massive club.

"It is a tough place to go, but it is nice to see the teams you are coming up against getting a bit of stick.

"They had a bad result in the week and will want to put things right. The players expect that but we are capable enough to win.

"We have a self-belief and a spirit that we will move forward. We are picking up points on the road and that is important.

"We have an inner confidence to go there and get the three points."

The 23-year-old said he was determined for Southampton to retain their English Premier League status, having suffered relegation with former club Burnley.

"To stay in the Premier League is a great achievement because the teams around you are great teams," Rodriguez said. "It is the best league in the world."


Lambert embraces Villa challenge

12 January 2013 02:54

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he is thriving under pressure ahead of his side's crunch clash with Southampton on Saturday.

Villa, 16th, are set to go head-to-head with the team directly below them on the English Premier League table, with a victory key for either side if they are to pull themselves away from the relegation zone.

But Lambert is relishing the tense build-up and has backed his players to be at their best in the match at Villa Park.

"I'd rather have the pressure than not," he told reporters.

"You've got to have pressure to perform and that is the making of football. If you have pressure on your shoulders every time and know you've got to perform, that is no different for the lads who are here.

"You have to be ready for it. The onus is always on the home team to make the running. If you win that, you might go up a couple of places but that is how tight the league is.

"You have to be ready for everything that is coming your way."

Aston Villa suffered an embarrassing 3-1 League Cup defeat to fourth-tier side Bradford last time out, and Lambert expects to see a reaction from his team.

"We're feeling probably the exact same way the Aston Villa fans are feeling," he said.

"They are hurt by the embarrassment of getting beat the way they did. We have another leg to turn it around.

"We shouldn't have conceded the goals we did and that was the most disappointing thing. There was enough chances to win two games and you have got to take them.

"It's a huge club with a huge fanbase. The fans travelled that distance and they had work in the morning.

"I'm really disappointed for them. The team is so close to got back to Wembley and we never turned up and never performed. We have got another chance to turn that round."


Premier League: Aston Villa v Southampton

10 January 2013 14:27

Aston Villa will be looking for an immediate response to their League Cup defeat at Bradford City when they host Southampton on Saturday.

Struggling Villa are in a horrid run of form, having won just two of their past nine matches in all competitions.

Of those two wins, one came against Championship outfit Ipswich Town in the FA Cup but Paul Lambert's side did not fare as well against lower league opposition on Tuesday.

With a place in a Wembley final at stake, Villa were awful in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat against League Two outfit Bradford.

Villa sit 16th in the Premier League and have conceded 17 goals in their past four league fixtures.

Defenders Richard Dunne (groin), Gary Gardner (knee) and Nathan Baker (hamstring) have been on the sidelines recently and they have been made to pay, with Villa now boasting the league's worst defence having conceded 41 goals in 21 matches.

A 4-1 loss at Southampton earlier in the season is sure to give the visitors confidence for Saturday's Premier League encounter while they should also take heart from Villa's terrible home record.

The 1982 European Cup winners have triumphed in front of their home fans in the league on just three occasions in the last 14 months.

And while they are struggling at the back, they have not been prolific in the final third either, scoring an equal-low 17 times in the league this season.

Belgian striker Christian Benteke has netted six of those goals and without him they would be in serious trouble.

Southampton are not exactly flying either, although as a newly promoted club their position of 17th is respectable.

They sit just goal difference above the relegation zone but no fan of Nigel Adkins' side would be complaining if the table remains the same at the end of the season.

They will hope for a turnaround in form though, with Southampton on a winless run of five matches at the moment.

The St Mary's Stadium outfit were thumped 5-1 by Chelsea in their last fixture, a third-round FA Cup tie at home, and despite their ability to score goals a leaky defence has regularly harmed them in their bid for survival.

Striker Rickie Lambert has netted eight Premier League goals this season but he needs more support from the likes of Jay Rodriguez (two league goals in 17 appearances) and Zambian international Emmanuel Mayuka (no goals in seven appearances) if they want to climb the table.

Rodriguez did score against Chelsea on Saturday and Adkins will have his fingers crossed that the goal gives the striker - who signed from Burnley for a reported fee of seven million pounds in the off-season - a boost in confidence.

Southampton will be without midfield playmaker Adam Lallana (knee) for at least another fortnight while defender Jose Fonte (knee) is sure to miss the relegation six-pointer after he was stretchered off against Chelsea.

The match is crucial for both sides with the loser likely to drop into the bottom three on the table.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25
18+ GambleAware