Top six clubs hold no fear for us, insists Saints boss Hasenhuttl
Southampton slipped into the relegation zone following defeat to Cardiff a fortnight ago.
Ralph Hasenhuttl insists the Premier League’s top-six clubs hold no fear for struggling Southampton as he attempts to spring another upset on Arsenal.
Hasenhuttl enjoyed a dream home debut as Saints boss by ending the Gunners’ 22-match unbeaten run with a 3-2 win at St Mary’s back in December.
The south coast club have improved under the Austrian but head to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday back in the bottom three after losing at home to relegation rivals Cardiff a fortnight ago.
Hasenhuttl believes his team will need to replicate their previous display against Unai Emery’s side in order to add to their 24 points this weekend.
“We are focusing on the game against a difficult opponent, a very good opponent we beat once already this year in a big game with a fantastic performance and I think we’ll need another one,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“I’m not afraid about all the big teams because we showed against Chelsea (a 0-0 draw) and Arsenal that we can also play against these teams good matches and we will need to, that’s for sure.
“Every game is difficult but I think in the first game we showed that we can bring this surprising result.
“To take something in the Emirates Stadium is far away from being easy but we don’t think about that.
“We know that we can be an opponent in an away game that’s not easy to beat, and that’s the only thing that interests us – that we can be a strong opponent, that we can take another clean sheet in London, we did against Chelsea.”
Southampton will once again be without top scorer Danny Ings due to a hamstring problem, but teenage prospect Michael Obafemi has recovered from a similar issue and is available to make his first appearance since late December.
The 18-year-old Republic of Ireland striker, who signed a new three-and-a-half year contact on Wednesday, has graduated from an academy which produced the likes of Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Asked whether Obafemi has the potential to enjoy similar progression to those players, Hasenhuttl was keen to avoid adding to the weight of expectation.
“I don’t want to put this pressure on him because it doesn’t help him,” said Hasenhuttl.
“The main part for the younger players is that they don’t feel pressure, they are open-minded and they are very positive.
“I don’t expect too much from them but what I expect is they work hard and if they get the chance to play they are brave and try to do their best on the pitch.
“He shouldn’t look or think about what big players this club has signed in the world of football, but he has potential to be a striker that can create problems for the opponents and if he stays fit he can develop his game in a good way.”