The latest James Ward-Prowse stunning free kick propelled Southampton to all three points against one of their basement rivals in Everton last time out, as boos rang out across Goodison Park following the Toffees’ failure to build on Amadou Onana’s opening header.
Ward-Prowse finished coolly into the bottom corner to level in the second half before sending a thunderous effort into the net 12 minutes from time, handing Nathan Jones a long-awaited first Premier League win as Saints manager and a third on the bounce in all tournaments.
Building on an FA Cup success over Crystal Palace and memorable EFL Cup beating of Manchester City, Southampton’s win over Everton did not change their 20th-placed standing at the foot of the Premier League table, but they are now level with Everton and West Ham United on 15 points and just one adrift of safety.
Jones’s side had embarked on a miserable seven-game winless streak and six-game losing run in the top flight before getting the better of Everton, although Onana’s header extended the hosts’ run without a clean sheet in the top flight to eight matches since a 1-0 success over Bournemouth in October.
Now tasked with ending Southampton’s six-match Premier League winless run at St Mary’s, Jones and his leaky Saints side have shipped a joint-high 16 goals on home soil this term and have not kept a top-flight clean sheet in front of their own fans all season long – last keeping out Arsenal all the way back in April 2022.
Demanding a response after his side became the latest FA Cup giant-killing victims at the hands of Stevenage, Unai Emery got what he wanted from Aston Villa during the visit of Leeds to the West Midlands last Friday, as the Lions bounced back with a narrow victory.
Leon Bailey took just three minutes to open the scoring for Villa before Emiliano Buendia’s insurance goal, and Emery’s side held out for the final few moments despite seeing their clean sheet wiped out by Patrick Bamford seven minutes from the end.
Still unbeaten in the Premier League since the turn of the year – claiming seven points from nine on offer in the top flight – Aston Villa’s improving exploits under Emery have allowed the Lions to rise to 11th in the table – only three points adrift of under-performing powerhouses Liverpool and Chelsea.
Only Liverpool have beaten Aston Villa in top-flight action since Emery took the reins, with Villa scoring and conceding in five of their six top-flight contests under the ex-Arsenal boss, who could become the first Lions coach since John Gregory in 1998 to win each of his first three away matches in charge.
A strike from Jacob Ramsey gave Villa a 1-0 win over Southampton earlier this season – the Lions’ third win from their last four over the Saints – but the hosts prevailed by the same scoreline at St Mary’s in the 2021-22 campaign.