Leaving work early to beat the traffic

Southampton at home. Here comes the weekend.

We’re back at Villa Park. Not on a Saturday, that would be too much to ask, but instead we have the joys of getting through the Friday night traffic to welcome the arrival of Southampton. By one of the great quirks of geography we wouldn’t be all that happy about having to get there for a night match while it’s one of their easier journeys, and serve them right. Not that there’s much wrong with Southampton, there’s just not all that much right with them, either. They’re one of those outfits it’s impossible to have any strong feelings about, whose supporters have some mad and fierce hatred of a club miles away that they never come into contact with. It’s all very strange.

They’ve got Bryan Small’s nephew on their books and if he turns out any good he should have signed for us. Fortunately Shane Long has finally left them and they’ve still got Theo Walcott, who went from prodigy to veteran in what seemed like three weeks. They’ve had their manager for four years, which for a club like Southampton is good going. In fact, he’s been in charge longer than anyone they’ve employed since Chris Nicholl, although he’s never scored from outside the ground. And they do have the annoying ability to keep finding young players who they sell for daft money when so many of ours end up in division four.

Last season we beat them four-nil in what was probably our best performance of the season. More of that would be welcome, although we’re starting to put together the sort of injury list that only the Villa are capable of. They’re inconsistent and mid-table, we were a bit too consistent and below them, then in our last match we finally looked like we knew what we were doing. More of that would be welcome as well. Over to you, Steven.