Nigel Adkins believes he has a squad fired up for success after a strong week on the training ground.
The gaffer is thrilled to have had a full schedule working with his players for the first time following the end of the transfer window and the break for international fixtures, which has allowed perfect preparation for this weekend’s Barclays Premier League match against Aston Villa.
“It’s been good as we’ve had an excellent week on the training ground,” Adkins told Saints Player.
“I think the players have applied themselves really well and there’s been a great mentality.
"We were in on Sunday morning and we de-briefed the game then drawn a line underneath Arsenal and we’ve trained very well this week in preparation for Aston Villa.
“We said that we needed a good week’s work, so we’ve had that with good application from the players with a focus on what we want to do and the way we want to play.
“The lads that have been on international duty and the new lads who have joined us, have been great so we’ve had a proper week’s training ahead of Saturday.”
With no points on the board after a tough opening of games, Saturday’s match is being dubbed as where the season begins.
“I think it’s fair to say that,” Nigel acknowledged. “When we look at the fixtures from the start of the season, the two Manchester teams and Arsenal were always going to be a big challenge.
“Yes we wanted to win the games, as we want to win all the games, but we gave a good account of ourselves.”
Adkins highlighted as with previous seasons, where he feels points should be picked up to make a successful campaign.
“Home form is massively important for every team in the Barclays Premier League,” he stated.
“We’ve got a great opportunity now at the weekend against Aston Villa who have got a new manager in Paul Lambert.
“He has brought a new enthusiasm to the football club. He’s done ever so well, similar to ourselves in earning back-to-back promotions at Norwich, and now he’s at a new club where he plays a diamond formation and as everyone knows I like to play that as well so we’re well versed in that.
“We know they’re going to come here and be full of high energy, but we’re at home and we’ve got to make sure that we pick up the points and obviously have a positivity about ourselves.
“The atmosphere that we had against Manchester United was unbelievable at times and the roof was off the stadium so we’d like to keep producing that. The players work their socks off, our endeavour is to win games of football, to excite the supporters.
“We need to score at one end and keep them out at the other, so if we can generate that enthusiasm on the pitch to get the supporters off their seats then that transmits onto the pitch.”
Despite the scoreline, the stats showed that Saints competed with Arsenal last weekend, and the manager says there will be no radical change in approach in a bid to get a result against Aston Villa on Saturday.
“We want to play,” Adkins asserts. “All the successful teams play out from the back with a high tempo, control the game and give ourselves the opportunity to score goals. Modern full-backs get forward, overload the middle of the park and get on the football to create opportunities.
“It’s been great watching the Champions League this week to see the way they play against the two Manchester teams and Arsenal, to see the way they move and the way they get the ball to the forwards which are things we’re always striving to improve on.
“We’ve been working very hard as a team to nullify the opposition so that we can get the football and we can control the game as much as possible, hence the desire to have possession which we talk about, but it has to be effective which is important.
“We’re not just keeping it for keeping it’s sake, as there’s a stage in the game where just keeping the ball just stops the opposition from, building up a head of steam, so there is a purpose towards possession football.
“We all share that same common goal: we want Southampton to be successful and we’re working as hard as we can on the training ground, and when we come to St Mary’s, we’re together as one.
“When that whistle blows at the start of the game, we’re all doing everything that we can to win the game for Southampton.
“When the final whistle blows, we’ll analyse it in the cold light of day, we’ll take the positives from it, and like I always say we need five positives and one negative. We have that negative because we’re always striving to improve which we have done in the last couple of years.”