Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl wants to see his side showing they are “nasty to play against” when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The Saints, currently 16th in the Premier League and winless in their last five matches, face a Palace outfit four places and three points better off on Wednesday evening.
Hasenhuttl told a press conference on Monday: “We speak about the Premier League and it is a brutal challenge and you can be sure that if you show a weakness they will take it.
“On Wednesday we have to show them we are also nasty to play against, because this is what we have shown in the past.
“A team that can take a point against Manchester City away (Southampton drew 0-0 with City at the Etihad Stadium in September) is also possible to take points against Palace. So this is what we have to show, such a performance.”
Southampton’s winless run has featured losses at Norwich (2-1) and Liverpool (4-0), draws at home against Leicester (2-2) and Brighton (1-1) – both of which they led in – and then Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. Patrick Vieira’s Palace ended a three-game losing streak with their 3-1 victory over Everton on Sunday.
Hasenhuttl said: “Against Leicester and Brighton I think we played good games but the problem is we didn’t take the points we should. Also against Norwich I think we played much better than the result was in the end, so the results are not always showing the true picture of how we played.
“But I must say against Arsenal after the first 20 minutes we haven’t been good enough, and we play on Wednesday against a team that is in good shape, good mood. We know we can play much better, and we have to because now it becomes a very intense time.
“We have a few injury problems – this affects every team at the moment and we have to find good alternatives to be successful.”
Southampton are assessing Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja after each came off in the Arsenal game because of injury.
“The injuries are not too serious,” Hasenhuttl said. “Both couldn’t train today. We’ll have a look if Wednesday’s game comes too early for them.”
The pair’s fellow forward Che Adams missed Saturday’s match due to a knock, and Hasenhuttl said: “I think for him it’s still not 100 per cent clear how long it will take, but definitely not available for the Wednesday game.”
Hasenhuttl also said Tino Livramento had sustained a muscle issue that was “hopefully not an issue for him to play”. Willy Caballero is set to play in goal again, with Alex McCarthy sidelined and Fraser Forster also most likely still unavailable – Hasenhuttl said Saturday’s home clash with Brentford was a possibility for the latter.
Oriel Romeu and Mohammed Salisu can be called upon again after one-game suspensions, and Hasenhuttl also reported there were no positive coronavirus cases in the club.
When asked about vaccination levels, he said: “We are not so bad I think.
“I don’t know the exact numbers or percentage of people who are vaccinated in the club, but I think nearly everybody is vaccinated and as we all know, we are now hunting for the booster and this should also help against the new variant.”
Under the Government’s ‘Plan B’ measures in response to rising coronavirus cases and the spread of the Omicron variant, from Wednesday proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test will be required for spectators to attend sporting events in England with crowds of over 10,000.