Ralph Hasenhuttl

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Hasenhuttl praises Saints resolve, slams festive schedule

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is another Premier League manager who is far from happy with the busy festive fixtures.

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Join the queue behind Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho, Herr Hasenhuttl.

Saints drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace at St Mary’s on Saturday, just 48 hours after their big win away at Chelsea on Boxing Day.

“You only have one day to rest. It’s unbelievable, we couldn’t prepare anything for this game. I don’t know what this schedule is about, we had no sessions to work on anything,” Hasenhuttl said. “For this reason, I think we did a good game. Mentally and physically, what the guys did today, was really tough. We were the better team and kept trying till the last minute. I think it’s not necessary to play today. If we don’t play till Wednesday again why don’t we just play Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday. I know Saturday is a big day for football but it’s not necessary.”

Focusing on his team and their display on the pitch against Palace, Saints started slowly but recovered well after falling behind and they were unlucky not to snatch a late win to make it three on the trot.

Hasenhuttl admitted he was “not unhappy” to grab a point in an even game.

“It’s a more than deserved point. We had the much bigger chances today and it was a good save from Moussa Djenepo. We kept on believing, we knew it was a difficult game against this opponent when you’re 1-0 down because they sit deep,” Hasenhuttl said. “The subs gave us a little bit boost, particularly Moussa Djenepo on the left. Danny Ings was very calm. We could feel that we could turn the game completely after that but we’re not unhappy with the point. It was similar to the game here last season against them. I felt the equaliser was deserved.”

Saints now have a tough stretch of games coming up against Tottenham, Wolves, Leicester, Liverpool and Palace again, but they sit four points above the relegation zone at the midway point of the season and that’s a lot better than it was looking for the last few months.

With Danny Ings now on 12 goals for the season, if he stays fit and Southampton continue to keep their current form, they should start to look at the top 10 rather than the bottom three. That said, with Watford and Norwich picking up big wins in recent weeks, it is getting tight at the bottom as we head into 2020.

Southampton hail ‘absolutely outrageous’ Ings

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Southampton’s savior this season has been local lad Danny Ings.

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He now has 11 goals in the Premier League so far this season, with seven in his last seven as he scored twice to set them up for a huge 3-1 win away at relegation rivals Aston Villa on Saturday.

After spending last season on loan at Saints, the move became a $26 million permanent transfer from Liverpool in the summer and Ings was finally injury free and had a full preseason.

Speaking after the win at Villa to BBC Sport, Ings’ manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is delighted.

“Danny is fantastic at the moment, he’s absolutely outrageous at the moment and I’m very happy for him,” Hasenhuttl said.

As for the man of the moment, he praised the work the team is putting in as they’ve now won three of their last five games to bounce back after a tough start to the season.

“It is very, very important for us as a team, the fans and everyone at the club,” Ings told BBC Solent. “We didn’t start the season too strong but to come here and win the way we did today, that shows real promise for us as a team that we are working hard to turn all our mistakes from previous games into positives. Today we showed a proper professional performance.”

Ings’ comeback has been so impressive and he looks like he’s going to score every time he steps on the pitch right now. He was denied by the post and crossbar last week against West Ham, while he also scored a screamer which was ruled out due to a foul in the build-up, and he scored in his five games before he fired a blank against the Hammers.

Simply put, Ings is on fire. If he stayed fit, this was always likely to happen.

He is just the third player in Southampton’s history to hit double figures in a season before Christmas Day and he says it is all down to an intense offseason.

“It is great, it really is great, I worked extremely hard in the offseason,” Ings said. “Last year I couldn’t give as much as I wanted to due to fitness and things like that but this year I’ve worked really hard to get into the shape I’m in and every day, coming into training, for games, I am having fun. I am enjoying my football again. When I’m enjoying my football it brings out the best in me and I know there is still more to come and I’m going to work extremely hard to make sure I fulfil my potential here.”

Right now he looks certain to get a call-up for the England national team in March and although Gareth Southgate isn’t short of options in attack, Ings’ pace and ability to be in the right place at the right time is Jamie Vardy-esque. Vardy probably isn’t going to come out of retirement for EURO 2020, so Ings would be a great option for England.

Saints hope he will 1) stay fit and 2) keep scoring as they are now out of the relegation zone and three points clear of trouble ahead of a tough festive period with Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Liverpool up next.

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. West Ham

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Saturday’s final Premier League fixture is set to pit a pair of underperforming relegation battlers against one another when Southampton host West Ham United at St. Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com). Managers Ralph Hasenhuttl and Manuel Pellegrini have each flirted with being fired in recent weeks, though the former was able to pull himself back from the edge with back-to-back wins last week.

Southampton had lost six of eight games during a two-month winless skid before beating Watford and Norwich City, both at home, to not only save the Austrain’s job but also pull his side to within touching distance of safety from the relegation zone.

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As for West Ham, Pellegrini is hanging on by a thread as he faces the possibility of being the next PL manager fired on the back of a 1W-2D-7L record in the Hammers’ last 10 games. To call that run of results — comprising more than 25 percent of the season — relegation form would be an understatement.

It’s not just the results which have been disastrous, but more so the margin by which they’ve suffered them. In those 10 games, West Ham have managed to conceded fewer than two goals only twice, including just one clean sheet. A number of bottom-half sides have found lots of joy against them: Newcastle United, Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal each scored three; Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers each score two.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: QUESTIONABLE – Stuart Armstrong (hamstring)

West Ham United: OUT – Manuel Lanzini (clavicle), Jack Wilshere (groin), Lukasz Fabianski (thigh), Winston Reid (knee)


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn — Soares, Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bertrand — Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Hojberg, Redmond — Long, Ings

West Ham: Martin — Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell — Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson — Haller, Antonio


What they’re saying

Hasenhuttl, on his place as Saints boss: “This experience has been very important for me as a manager and I’m happy that I went through such a period. I’m thankful to the club that it is going a different way, not immediately sacking the manager but supporting him. Thank you to everyone at the club, I could feel big support in this moment, which is important for the future of the club. That was very important for me as a manager, I’ve never had such a long time without winning in my managerial career.”

Pellegrini, on his place as West Ham boss: “What I really need is to win the game but maybe I’m not in my job on Monday. That’s not a problem of the job. The problem is to try to improve what you’re doing because we don’t have the results. It’s a difficult league where the difference is very little between one player and the other one. I repeat it’s not normal to have five points and very bad results. That’s why I know that the owners trust what we are doing because with another owner you may have been sacked before, and we know what football is and we are trying to get results.”


Prediction

Given their medium-term form and the fact they’re playing at home, Southampton should be winning this game. If they’ve done one thing right all season, it’s that they’ve beaten the rest of the sides down near the relegation zone when they’ve faced them head to head. Whether or not West Ham will remain down there remains to be seen, and could be revealed based on what happens Saturday. Saints 2-2 West Ham.

Southampton’s late show rekindles belief

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SOUTHAMPTON — For the first 60 minutes Southampton’s players were being heckled and booed by their own fans.

30 minutes later they were given a standing ovation off the pitch after launching a heroic comeback to secure their first home win since April and beat relegation rivals Watford 2-1 in a pivotal clash at St Mary’s.

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Boy, did Southampton need this. They now have belief they can get out of the bottom three and salvage their season as they have four crucial games coming up against Norwich, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa.

Speaking after the game Ralph Hasenhuttl puffed out his cheeks as he sat down in the press conference room. Relief was the key word.

“There is a tonne of weight falling off the shoulders, there were tonnes of weight here today, you could feel it from the first moment. We couldn’t move. It was completely different to last weekend,” Hasenhuttl told Sky Sports. “The subs had a good impact and gave us fresh energy. Then it was a completely different second half, an unbelievable turnaround for the table. Sofiane Boufal on one side and Moussa Djenepo on the other gave us good quality.”

Southampton’s players were relieved at the final whistle and local lad Danny Ings, who has now scored eight goals in his last nine games in all competitions, added that the way the atmosphere turned inspired the players.

“It’s a massive result. It has been a very tough week for everyone at the club. To go 1-0 down and then to comeback and win shows the character of the lads. The atmosphere was great in the end and we deserved the points,” Ings told Sky Sports.

Hasenhuttl was asked if the atmosphere early on at St Mary’s impacted the performance of his team, and he issued a rallying cry to his players.

“We didn’t show that we create chances. We need chances to lift them and when we had a small one they were immediately there. We have to create them and you cannot demand them supporting you if you don’t show them anything,” Hasenhuttl said. “You have to show them then you get something. In the second half we showed and they were immediately there. This is what lifts everybody. First we must look at ourselves and what we can do better and the rest comes by the side.”

Saints were a team transformed in the second half as Moussa Djenepo and Sofiane Boufal pushed on down the wings, Danny Ings was a menace in the middle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg won the ball back time and time again as they pinned Watford back.

Hasenhuttl admitted the second half was how he wants Saints to play all the time as they enter a season-defining few weeks in their season.

“We wanted to play like this from the beginning, it was the same shape. The players didn’t play how we want them to play and like they can play and we conceded a goal in that moment. I have analyzed more than I wanted to,” Hasenhuttl said. “It is more important to have this win now, to have this first three points at home. Last two games from a results side were okay, now we have a big home game against Norwich where we have to do it again.”

Brave is a word Hasenhuttl has being using a lot lately and his Southampton players dug deep at a crucial period late in the game against Watford.

He knows this is only the start but if they continue to be brave, Saints’ belief that they will stay in the Premier League will continue to rise.

“We have chances to take points every weekend and we must be more brave like today and when we are we have our quality to score, and we have our quality to win games,” Hasenhuttl added.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal v. Southampton

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Two struggling sides meet Saturday at the Emirates Stadium when Unai Emery‘s Arsenal visits Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Southampton (Watch Live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The host Gunners are winless and four and sit eight points back of the Top Four. Despite a wildly talented attack, gthey’ve scored just 16 goals in 12 matches and have a minus-1 goal differential.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Saints’ troubles are at the other end of the table, as Hasenhuttl’s men are living that Bottom Three life with just eight points from 12 matches.

Their problem has been scoring and conceding goals, though their 29 allowed markers is a bit inflated by the horrible nine-star embarrassment suffered against Leicester.


Injuries/suspensions

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Sead Kolasinac.

Southampton: OUT — None. QUESTIONABLE — Michael Obafemi.


Probable lineups

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ozil; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Southampton: McCarthy; Stephens, Bednarek, Vestergaard; Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Djenepo; Ings, Redmond.


What they’re saying

Unai Emery on a possible Granit Xhaka return: “We have here some examples. For example, with Hector Bellerin. He told me two weeks ago he struggled here with the supporters sometimes when his performance was not the best. Also we have some other players who have had that situation. They come back. With Xhaka, I want to do the same. …  Also he is a good guy, a good player and he loves and respects Arsenal a lot, but knowing one day he made a mistake.”

Hasenhuttl on using the international break for good: “We had an intense week with a game against Brentford, which was a good test for us. We tried to go back to our basic fundamentals which is good for the players. We worked very hard and tried to show them how it can work. We had a good atmosphere in the sessions and in the game. The guys are following well, and that’s exactly what we need. Especially against big opponents because you have nothing to lose.


Prediction

It feels like both squads’ malaise should come to an end, but it’s only coming for one. We’re betting Xhaka has a nice return to the fold and Pepe shines to the tune of a 3-1 win for Arsenal.