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Thursday 8 December 2016

Ronald Koeman suggests Southampton are "struggling" defensively

Published 17/12/2015 | 16:16

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is concerned about his team's run of form
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is concerned about his team's run of form

Ronald Koeman believes Southampton's opponents now relish playing them because of a perceived defensive frailty.

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On Saturday they host Tottenham, whose head coach is Koeman's predecessor at Southampton Mauricio Pochettino, after a run of five fixtures without victory in which they have conceded 12 goals.

The Dutchman attempted to arrest his team's declining form by adopting a more defensive shape last week at Crystal Palace where they lost 1-0, a result which followed a 1-1 draw with 20th-placed Aston Villa, a 6-1 home defeat by Liverpool and a 3-1 reverse at Manchester City.

They have recently appeared far from the defensively-sound team they were under Pochettino, and Koeman is concerned that rival teams are now optimistic about facing them.

"I think we are struggling in scoring goals, I think our opponents see in us mistakes defensively," Koeman said.

"The whole team performance, every individual performance of the players, is a little bit lower than what we expect, and what we can show.

"As a manager you have always pressure. You know what can happen.

"Of course, we speak, we have good training sessions, but everybody needs to realise that we play for a lot this Saturday and we have to improve.

"Maybe (there is) some lack of confidence, but still we can play good football, still we create chances. The productivity is not good enough."

Paulo Gazzaniga, Southampton's third-choice goalkeeper, is to retain his place against Tottenham following a reasonable performance at Palace in the absence of the injured Fraser Forster and Maarten Stekelenburg.

Their leading goalscorer this season, Graziano Pelle, started on the bench at Selhurst Park owing to a knee injury but he is expected to return to Koeman's starting XI after recovering his fitness.

"If you win you get up in maybe five or six positions in the table, if you don't win two in a row you fall back," Koeman added.

"I think it's more close than ever this Premier League so far."

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