Ralph Hasenhüttl feels his Southampton side are getting back to their true identity after a recent upturn in results and performances.
Saints have taken seven points from the four games since the November international break, when the boss called for the team to “get back to our basics and our fundamentals.”
Last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Newcastle was the first defeat for a month, but Hasenhüttl still took heart from the way his players applied themselves ahead of tomorrow’s St Mary’s showdown with West Ham.
“The team at the moment is in a better shape,” he said. “I think we played a good game in Newcastle, but in the end didn’t take a point.
“The team was following the plan with good intensity in the game and good balance of taking risks, playing in behind and creating chances.
“I think everyone can feel this is more this team, more the football we want to play and more our identity. We changed the shape and stayed on a back four, trying to keep the opponent further away from our goal.
“The next game will be interesting – an opponent with good automatism, good habits and it will be difficult. They have a lot of individual quality and it’s not a coincidence that they won against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – it’s not easy to take a clean sheet and win there.”
Saints return to St Mary’s after back-to-back home wins, over Watford and Norwich, and Hasenhüttl knows the significance of continuing that positive momentum.
“It was important for us to show to ourselves that we could win at home, but it’s not enough to know that we can do it – we have to show it once again,” he continued.
“It helps massively when you start well and go in the lead. It was fantastic against Norwich, with two set-pieces that helped us.
“We know that we can score, but we must also work on our clean sheet. For the last 11 games we didn’t have one, so I think it’s important to find this way back and this is also one of the biggest goals at home.”