‘I’m surprised they don’t have more points’ – Saints’ boss on Canaries

Teemu Pukki pulls a goal back at Southampton
 in December Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Teemu Pukki pulls a goal back at Southampton in December Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Southampton coach Ralph Hasenhüttl knows exactly what to expect from Norwich City should this weekend’s Premier League clash get the green light.

Hasenhuttl spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon, but that was before the Premier League's late night statement calling an emergency meeting to discuss future fixtures, in light of a Covid-19 diagnosis for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

That now casts major doubt on whether any top flight games take place this weekend. The Saints' chief, however, respects the bottom club.

'They cannot surprise us as their last results at home against very good teams shows how different this team is at the moment,' said Hasenhüttl. 'They are playing fantastic with the ball and getting better and better without the ball. It is surprising they only have 21 points.'

It's a familiar refrain from opposition managers, but the fact remains it is the first in a series of must-win games for City if they are to avoid the drop.

'They are sticking to their philosophy and it's fantastic what they do with the limits they have, but they have done a fantastic job this season. When I see them playing I'm surprised they don't have more points. We go there expecting a difficult game.'

Saints beat City 2-1 at St Mary's back in December, Teemu Pukki pulling one back during a much-improved second-half performance after the hosts had scored twice from set-pieces.

'They have had so much transition and we have had changes, so it'll be a new game for us,' said Hasenhüttl. 'It's important we stick to our game plan.

'We had two goals from set-pieces and then a very tough second half when they showed how dangerous they can be with the ball. We must be committed and that's the focus for the weekend.'

Saints will be without Moussa Djenepo, who begins a three-game suspension this weekend, while Stuart Armstrong is expected to be available.

Midfielder Armstrong, who missed the Newcastle tie after suffering concussion, has resumed training, but former Canaries attacker Nathan Redmond is injured.

'We have a few issues with injuries,' said Hasenhüttl. 'This is still the same but we must find a way to get back on a winning track. Moussa is suspended now.

'We have a few problems, but all teams have. It's not the most interesting thing to talk about in this moment.

'Reddie is still out. Stu Armstrong is back in training, this is good. It gives us an opportunity on the number 10 position. We have a few options in our mind, we've thought about changing the shape if it's necessary. Let's have a look.'

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