The result will see Villa makers – Christian Purslow, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris – reassess Smith’s future during the 15-day international break knowing Villa could be in the relegation zone after this week’s round of matches. -end.
This is the first time Smith has lost five on the league spin in his 484-game managerial career over the past decade.
It was yet another case of lack of belief and real game plan as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints dominated thanks in large part to their midfield duo of James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu who this summer , were both wanted by the Villa transfer committee.
Matchmaker then and it was Ward-Prowse who wanted him just more than Emi Buendia before the ball shot high in the sky. He bounced off Matty Cash’s back after the right-back died out before Armstrong let go of his left foot to hit a crisp in front of Emi Martinez.
Villa responded well at the start with John McGinn firing on while, a minute later, Buendia hit a subdued down effort that was easily swept aside by Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
However, at the other end, it was Stuart Armstrong who was unmarked before flying to the far post after a corner from the Saints.
Anwar El Ghazi, one of three Villa changes for this one, then skied in a good position after enjoying a rare slide from 18-year-old Tino Livramento.
Dutchman El Ghazi was fortunate enough to stay on the pitch, however, after his 11th-minute warning was quickly followed by a clear foul and then a dive as he sought to deceive the referee.
Luckily for Villa, Martinez was once again in good shape as he refused Ward-Prowse to score two points with a superb save that was saved in the second half when the Argentinian was out of breath to knock back the head of Che Adams.
With no change in personnel at the break, Smith went from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-2-2 with Leon Bailey paired with Ollie Watkins up front.
This tactical change seemed to do the trick with El Ghazi and Buendia twice sending their efforts close.
On time, Jacob Ramsey was signed on for Marvelous Nakamba with the manager knowing that a result was desperately needed. He went on to call in Cameron Archer -esh off his England Under-20 call this week – for £ 38million man Buendia who didn’t watch him again despite improving in the second half .
And it turned out to be that as Archer nearly squirmed on goal before Matty Cash managed to hit a goal as the Saints held on for the win.
Yes, Villa improved in the second half but, again, that wasn’t enough to win a football game with Smith’s miserable record now stretching to just three wins out of the first 11 games of his team this season.
Here are your player notes from another frustrating night with Smith’s work at stake.
Emi Martinez 7*
Produced a stunning save to negate Ward-Prowse’s powerful 20-yard stacker who was tied for goal. Martinez had absolutely no chance with Armstrong’s opening shot with the Man of the Saints hitting sweet. Martinez showed good hands as Southampton scored a nook and a corner. Martinez offered another special stop as he reversed Adams’ efforts to keep Villa inside. Martinez kept the score low.
Matty Cash 6
Off for a split second as Ward-Prowse’s deflected high ball bounced off his back which, in turn, straightened up nicely for Armstrong to shoot home. The money was sometimes irregular.
Axel Tuanzebe 3
Has been turned and returned by Adam Armstrong on more than one occasion. The lender has struggled and appears to have taken a confidence hit in recent weeks. Reserve.
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Tyrone Ming 6
Villa’s strongest player in that first half and had to be as he cleared and directed whatever came his way. Mings did well, it must be said.
Matt Ciblet 4
I have too often found the double act of Livramento and Stuart Armstrong, El Ghazi not wanting to go back.
John McGinn 4
A passenger in this first half as the McGinn and Villa midfielder was led by Romeu and Ward-Prowse. Things got a little better in the second but that doesn’t mean much. McGinn just couldn’t go.
Merveilleux Nakamba 4
Overwhelmed by the upper well Romeu and Ward-Prowse. Nakamba did, as he always does, pinch to pinch the ball to help thwart the Saints’ attacks. Substituted after 63 minutes and sprinted quickly as Ramsey replaced him.
Léon Bailey 2
Just out of the beat once more. Nothing happened with Bailey’s keys too loose as he gave up possession. The Jamaican hit the grass in frustration as in the second half he took the lead alongside Watkins. It looked average and it’s being polite.
Emi Buendia 4
Failed to win a 50-50 in the middle of the park which led to the opening. Buendia has been a frustration throughout – and how many times have we said that this season? He hit a docile effort at McCarthy after cutting inside in the first half. Buendia improved slightly and made some decent effort after entering some good areas. It was however taken out for Archer, after what was yet another sub-par performance.
Anouar El Ghazi 2
Should have taken an early bath after his 11th minute warning before another clear foul, then a dive. Livramento wouldn’t have had an easier game this season. El Ghazi continued to lose the ball as he wasted a golden chance after Livramento slipped before shooting high and wide. El Ghazi hit a powerful which was knocked down by McCarthy after the break as Villa initially went 4-4-2. Poor on his return to the starting lineup.
Ollie Watkins 3
Tired of saying it but isolated once again. The only thing about Watkins was his pace of work (again) and the way he almost took advantage of an under-touched back pass. Non-existent if we are honest.
Jacob Ramsey (for Nakamba, 63) 5
Came and played inside with McGinn in a new 4-4-2 look. I didn’t overdo it, but played the ball fast when it was on.
Cameron Archer (for Buendia, 71) 5
Score his England Under-20 call with his longest Premier League run to date and he looked confident on the ball. Must have more playing time.
Keinan Davis (for El Ghazi, 79) 5
Thrown in with just over 10s to go as Smith desperately searched for an equalizer. Well shot before getting fouled in downtime.
Unused subtitles: Jed Steer, Ashley Young, Kortney Hause, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwuemeka, Aaron Ramsey.
Southampton (4-2-2-2): McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters ; James Ward-Prowse, Romeu; Elyounoussi (Diallo, 76), S.Armstrong (Lynaco, 56) ; Adams, A. Armstrong (Broja, 81).
Unused subtitles: Forster, Perraud, Djenepo, Walcott, Tella, Long.
Southampton : A. Armstrong (3)
Aston Villa: N / A
Next step for Villa
Brighton (h) on Saturday 20 November; kick off at 3 p.m.