Steven Gerrard is a man under pressure after just one win from the opening six league games and Southampton at home represents a must-win game if the Villans are to realise their European ambitions this season.
If the former Liverpool legend wants to keep his job at Villa Park, he should consider handing a start to Danny Ings, after resting the experienced forward in the draw against Manchester City last time out.
Gerrard understandably selected a more defensive lineup against the champions, with just Ollie Watkins leading the line, but he should return to a two-striker formation against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Ings has two goals to his name so far this season, including a well-taken strike in Villa’s only league win against Everton, and he could be the difference-maker against the Saints.
Noel Whelan has complimented Ings and his partnership with Watkins in Villa’s attack in the past, saying:
“He’s showing what a good player he is and how dangerous he can be when he drops between the lines to feed Ollie Watkins.
“He is a phenomenal finisher as well, and we’re really seeing that partnership work with Watkins. They’re building that telepathy, which is key to any good side.”
Southampton will presumably line up with Mohammed Salisu and Armel Bella-Kotchap as their centre-back pairing, both of whom are 23 and under, so don’t possess too much Premier League experience.
Ings, meanwhile, has 175 top-flight appearances under his belt, with 63 goals and 19 assists to his name, and his experience and nous in front of goal could be vital if Villa are to pick up three points.
Seven of those goals came in the Premier League for Villa last season, as he finished as the second top-scorer, so if Gerrard needs a goal he knows he can rely on Ings to be a consistent finisher.
There is also the added incentive of Ings featuring against his old side, which always seems to be an added incentive for players to perform and often score, so Gerrard should take advantage of that as he looks to pick up his second league win of the season.
Therefore, after resting Ings against City, Gerrard should restore the former Liverpool man to his starting side on Friday night.