Southampton V Aston Villa at St. Mary's Stadium : Match Preview

03 December 2013 05:01
Southampton V Aston Villa - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Lambert considering forward options

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has not ruled out dropping striker Christian Benteke after a recent dip in form.

The Belgian has not scored in seven games and ahead of Wednesday's match against Southampton, Lambert has admitted he may leave the forward - who notched 19 league goals last season - out of the starting XI.

"He's had a little bit of a spell where he's not scoring and not playing as well as he has previously," he said.

"But the thing with Christian is he set himself a really high standard last season, incredibly high, to the extent where people in the media were talking about the fact he was only behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the European scoring charts for the calendar year.

"His standard was really high and when you fall below that with just a little blip it can be blown up into 'he's having an absolute nightmare', so you've got to watch it.'

"Whatever decision I make I'm sure he'll respect it.

"It's not just one player you have to look after here, there's 25 guys.

"I'll do what I think is right for this club. Chris is a major part of it and I'll make the best decision I can for the club."

Lambert is however confident that Benteke will return to his form of last season.

"The challenge is for him to bounce back from that. People forget how old he is, they think he's been around for years. I'm pretty sure he'll come back from it," he said.

"I think the fact he hasn't scored for a while will affect him but that's normal.

"I was fortunate enough to play with some world class strikers and I saw them having little barren spells.

"Everybody comes through it and Christian is the same. He just needs a goal to set himself back on that road."

Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino has warned his players must not let successive Barclays Premier League defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea derail what has so far been a promising campaign.

"We don't have time to dwell on our two consecutive defeats because we are only thinking about tomorrow's game," Pochettino said at a press conference.

"All we can do is recover, to get our energy back and try to fix the mistakes we have made in the past to make sure they do not happen again.

"We have lost on two very difficult grounds at Arsenal and Chelsea, so now all we can do is prepare as well as we can for the next game.

"We will try to impose our values, the way we want to play and get the win over Aston Villa."

Pochettino added: "We may have suffered two defeats, but overall we competed very well against two very tough sides

"We did make some mistakes which meant it was not possible for us to win those games, but in none of those cases were Arsenal or Chelsea superior to Southampton.

"It is true we also did not manage some little details.

"The two goals we conceded against Chelsea came from set-pieces and the first of which came from the free-kick where Boruc suffered his injury.

"Up until that point we were managing the game well, had good chances and overall tomorrow will be a good test to see if we can get back to our winning ways and I am sure we can do that."

French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin will not play against Villa because of a groin injury picked up on Sunday and Gaston Ramirez is also not yet match fit.

Southampton have yet to lose at home in the Premier League, while Aston Villa have suffered only one away defeat, with two wins and three draws.

"I am expecting a physical game," Pochettino said. "Aston Villa are a strong side and very good on the counter-attack, especially when they are playing away.

"Overall we are expecting a really tough match because of all the global aspects of this match."

Source: PA