Saints aim to avoid unwanted record against Villa

Southampton will try to avoid matching the club's worst ever start to a top-flight campaign when they face Aston Villa at St Mary's on Saturday.

Saints have endured a testing return to life in the Premier League and have failed to register a single point from their opening four games.

The fixture list has hardly been kind to the newly-promoted side, pitting Nigel Adkins's team against last season's top three -- Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal -- as well as Wigan.

But a fifth successive reverse would deliver a confidence-sapping blow in the wake of last weekend's crushing 6-1 thrashing by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

That would equal their run at the start of the 1998-9 season, although the fact Saints eventually clawed their way to safety to finish 17th will no doubt be highlighted by Adkins should his side lose to Villa.

Southampton's performances have drawn praise, particularly in the narrow single-goal defeats to the two Manchester clubs.

The manner of defeat to Arsenal was a different matter altogether and defender Jos Hooiveld admits the team must bounce back.

"It was disappointing, but it's something you have to get over," Hooiveld said. "It happened but we can't do anything about it, so it's onto the next one.

"We have to man up and get a smile back on our faces so we can enjoy our football."

After such a dispiriting result, Saints striker Rickie Lambert admits the manner of their response against Villa will influence their long term prospects.

"It's about how we react and Saturday is our main objective. There's no point sobbing over what happened," he said.

"I haven't had a defeat like that before but, when you do, the only thing you're looking forward to is the next game so you can try and rectify it.

"The lads can't wait to we can show this was a blip because we're not going to perform like that every weekend, so hopefully we can get off the mark.

"We should look for our season to start now because it'll look a whole lot different if we get the three points on Saturday."

Meanwhile, Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj admits his left back spot is under pressure following the arrival of Joe Bennett from Middlesbrough.

The US international felt he had made significant progress at Villa before the arrival of Bennett added competition for places.

"I feel extra pressure because I'm not a natural left-back, but I'm playing in that position now," Lichaj said. "I need to do as well as I can and hopefully I can keep that spot.

"Everyone is looking to get a place in the starting eleven, with maybe two or three guys in each position, so you have to be on your 'A' game no matter what, in matches and at the training ground."

Lichaj claims the mood in the Villa camp is high after registering their first league win under Paul Lambert with a 2-0 victory over Swansea last week.

"We needed a result on our home pitch so it's good to get it," he said. "The fans were all buzzing, the manager was in a good mood and the players were in a good mood.

"No one likes losing. I think we've just gelled more as a team and got to know the new players better as each week goes on.

"Getting the new lads involved with the squad has helped, as we can see with the results."

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