Ralph Hasenhuttl

Saints on Storm Dennis-affected loss: ‘Lot of scrapping, fighting, not a lot of playing’

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Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard thought his side went unrewarded for a scrappy effort on a miserable day.

The weather was one thing, as Storm Dennis sent strong winds and fierce rain to the 2-1 loss to Burnley at St. Mary’s.

VAR’s decision not to overturn an ungiven penalty on the field is stuck firmly in Jannik Vestergaard’s craw.

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While manager Ralph Hasenhuttl wasn’t drawn into much of a discussion on the incident, saying, “It’s boring to discuss this to be honest, there is no clear line.”

Vestergaard was ready to share his thoughts.

“No explanations because the decisions are famously decided by the Video Assistant Referee,” he said. “I think it’s a pen. I don’t know what the exact rules but I think he had his arm wide of his body. The ref chose not to give it and we have to create more chances.”

Vestergaard also says the weather affected both teams and was sure the game wasn’t a spectacle of entertaining football (He was correct).

“It turned into quite a battle. Balls flying high in the wind, very very difficult to foresee where they would come down. Lot of fighting for second balls, technical mistakes. Lot of scrapping, lot of fighting, not a lot of playing. I don’t think it was a great game to watch. We tried to accept the circumstances and make the best of it.”

Saints have a nice run of fixtures ahead, but would’ve wanted and probably should’ve had a result on Saturday at home. With fifth place possibly being a Champions League spot, this one will sting for days.

Report: Southampton readying Hasenhuttl extension

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According to a report by Sam Wallace of The Telegraph, Southampton expects Ralph Hasenhuttl to sign a new contract soon and buy in to the long-term plan of the club.

The club is still a decent way from securing safety in the Premier League, but relegation at this point seems like a disaster-only scenario with the club sitting in 13th on 31 points, seven points clear of the relegation zone. Still, it seems like by Wallace’s report that Hasenhuttl is ready to commit to the club despite the small bit of uncertainty.

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The Austrian boss joined Southampton from RB Leipzig in December of 2018 and signed a contract through the summer of 2021. His capture was hailed as a coup by many with Southampton in the relegation zone and its future far from certain, but he guided the club to safety with a 16th place finish last season.

There was significant noise surrounding Hasenhuttl’s job security after the brutal 9-0 defeat to Leicester City back in October, part of an eight-game Premier League winless run that threatened to doom the club, but he was given faith and rewarded his bosses with a renewed energy in league play. Since the November international break, Southampton has lost just four times in 13 matches, earning 23 points and grabbing positive results against Chelsea and Tottenham plus revenge over Leicester City with an emotional 2-1 victory.

Wallace’s report states that an extension was in the works earlier this season, but after the heavy defeat to Leicester City, the Austrian himself decided to put talks on hold to right the ship. Now that things appear much steadier on the field, the club expects talks with Hasenhuttl to resume. Nothing is likely to be imminent in the immediate future, with Hasenhuttl and much of the club on February break, but there appears to be a feeling that he is ready to commit his future to the Saints.

While the 52-year-old theoretically could have used the club as a stepping stone given his success at achieving safety last season and the presumption of the same this campaign, the difficult October stretch seems to have knocked him down a peg and could be grateful to still have employment at Southampton, a loyalty he could pay back to the club with a new contract.

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.