Saints boss urges his players to ignore hype of City's new era
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is urging his team to focus on their game and not be distracted by renewed energy at Norwich City during Dean Smith's first game in charge at Carrow Road on Saturday.
The new Canaries boss will become the first manager to face the same team in consecutive Premier League matches in the same season, with different clubs, as his final Aston Villa game was a 1-0 defeat to Saints.
Stuart Armstrong's powerful first-half strike proved enough at St Mary's to inflict a fifth consecutive defeat on the Villans and bring an end to Smith's three years in charge of his boyhood club.
He arrives in Norwich with City bottom and five points from safety, having earned a 2-1 win at Brentford that wasn't enough to save Daniel Farke's job.
“It’s always difficult when the opponent changes manager and you don’t have the information that you have normally," Hasenhuttl told his club's website.
“He (Smith) knows us and we know him which makes it a little bit different, but we are concentrating on our own game.
“We have had some good games in the past now and we want to concentrate on our development and this is the next game that we can win.
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“We’re preparing for our game to be tactically as flexible as possible. We have been this in the past and I think this makes more sense than to concentrate on any shape or particular habits from the opponent because you don’t know what you get.
“We know Dean Smith, yes, we know the team, yes, so we have spoken a little bit about both but in general we try to concentrate on our game and to be prepared for everything that is coming and facing us.”
Saints are 13th and six points clear of the bottom three after three wins and a draw from their last four games, and they also have a relatively clean bill of health.
Skipper and midfield lynchpin James Ward-Prowse, full-back Tino Livramento and on-loan Chelsea striker Armando Broja all pulled out of international duty but are back in training.
Former Canaries winger Nathan Redmond is also back in action after a positive Covid-19 test, leaving defender Jack Stephens as the only injury absence.
“We have only Jack Stephens out – everyone else is fit," Hasenhuttl added.
“There were only a few issues that we had, but everyone is fit and everybody is on the pitch.”