Rickie Lambert says Southampton can’t afford to be as open as they were at the Etihad Stadium on the opening day of the season.
Saints put in a valiant display against Manchester City in the campaign’s curtain-raiser, but despite taking a 2-1 lead, they were beaten 3-2 with the hosts also missing a penalty in a rollercoaster of a game.
Speaking at the launch of the club's Official Timekeeper, Eterna, the Saints top scorer confirmed the hosts can't play into their opponents' hands.
“No, we don’t want it to be as open as that,” he told Saints Player ahead of Saturday evening’s reverse match.
“You can’t give the players they have that much space and time. It was a great game to watch up at their place, but it was not the result we wanted.
“You’ve got to be tight when they’ve got it and open when we have it which is what every team wants, but that’s the way we’ve been playing lately and it’s been working, so hopefully we can implement it again on Saturday.”
Should Lambert replicate his feat of scoring against the champions this weekend, then he will complete a key milestone of 100 goals for Saints, and although he’s not chasing the limelight over the achievement, he admits he’d like to do it sooner than later.
“I’m not trying to make any big deal out of it, I’m just going to try and score it as fast as I can,” Rickie explained. “If it helps us to get a point or a win then that’s the most important thing.
“For me personally, I’m just in a mode of wanting to play and play because it’s going well at the minute and I’m scoring goals, so I just want to see the next game.”
Since Mauricio Pochettino’s appointment as First Team Manager, Saints have put in some impressive performances which have warranted more points, but Lambert confirmed that spirits are still high within the camp.
He said: “If the performances weren’t as good as they have been then the atmosphere wouldn’t be as buoyant as it is, but because the performances have been so good, there’s a lot of excitement between the lads.
“We’re all enjoying our football at the moment and we believe that the points are going to come if we carry on playing like we have been.
“I also want everyone to know that we understand the situation that we’re in. We’re not being blind about the relegation fight, but right now we’re trying to push up as far as we can and that includes trying to get three points on Saturday against Manchester City.
“Hopefully when we get above safety we can relax a bit, but we need to open the gap up to more than what it is right now.
“I can’t wait for Saturday,” he concluded. “It’s going to be a great game and hopefully our performance will be much the same again.”