Aston Villa head into Friday’s game at Southampton on the back of four straight defeats, but Dean Smith insists he is not concerned over his future.
Villa, who had Ezri Konsa sent off, went down 4-1 at home to West Ham on Sunday as their worrying form continued.
Smith’s men sit on 10 points, one fewer than Southampton, who have won two of their last three league games.
“I think the perception from outside of the football club is always different,” Smith said. “If you’re asking me if I sleep well, yes, I sleep well. I still play well at golf. My wife is still talking to me so, if that answers your question, then yes, I feel fine.
“There is no panic, we’re in control and determined to put things right,” he added. “There has been a reaction from all the players because they are disappointed with the results. We are not far from turning it around and we are in a determined mood, that’s for sure. There is a collective responsibility and the players have been working hard.
“I’ve been in this situation and we stayed up in our first season in the Premier League. I’m happy to take the criticism for them. I’m a big boy, I’ve been in professional football since I was 16 years old so I’ve seen an awful lot of things”
Villa’s cause on Friday will not be helped by an injury to Danny Ings, who is not fit to face his former side.
“Am I disappointed? If I say I am disappointed, you’ll say I still miss him. If I say no, you’ll say I am not scared of him,” Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl told Sky Sports. “The best thing I can say is that it doesn’t matter. We’ll play the team they bring and the team that turns up here.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – James Ward-Prowse
Ward-Prowse was also linked with Villa in the off season, but has stayed at Southampton. The midfielder has been involved in more Premier League goals against Villa than he has vs any other side in the competition (five – two goals, three assists). These five goal involvements have come in his last five games against them, with three coming in Saints’ 4-3 win at Villa Park last term.
Aston Villa – Tyrone Mings
Villa captain Mings was benched for the game against West Ham, only to then come on after Konsa was sent off. Given Konsa’s suspension, the England defender seems likely to start on Friday, and will be determined to prove he should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Southampton have lost just one of their last nine Premier League meetings with Aston Villa (W5 D3), though it was in this exact fixture in their last such meeting in January (0-1).
– Aston Villa are looking to win consecutive away league games against Southampton for the first time since a run of four between 1995 and 1998.
– The home side has won just one of the last six Premier League meetings between Southampton and Aston Villa (D1 L4), with Saints winning 2-0 in February 2020.
– Aston Villa have won none of their last 13 away top-flight matches played on a Friday (D3 L10) – their last away Friday win was in April 1950, winning 4-1 at Charlton Athletic with goals from Con Martin, Billy Goffin, Trevor Ford and Johnny Dixon.
– Southampton have taken seven points from their last three Premier League matches (W2 D1), as many as in their previous 10 games combined (W1 D4 L5).