Ronald Koeman is seeking a more ruthless streak in front of goal when his Southampton side visit in-form Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Southampton have failed to win their past four matches and wasted a series of chances in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against the Premier League’s bottom side Aston Villa.
The Saints may be out of form but history is on their side against Palace, who have failed to beat Southampton in the last 13 top-flight meetings between the two.
But Southampton manager Koeman accepts that his team must show more composure in front of goal to defeat Alan Pardew’s side.
“We have to do better than we did against Villa. If you get five or six opportunities and don’t take them then you don’t win,” he said.
“We need to be sharper, more clinical. We had a good week in training and paid attention to detail what we need to achieve.”
It was put to Koeman that many consider sixth-placed Palace to be having a better season than Southampton, despite the teams being separated by just two points.
But the Dutchman thinks his side are being harshly judged against last season, in which they recorded an impressive finish of seventh.
“Maybe, you compare this season to last season,” he added. “You have to ask yourself is that okay? Because then you expect always Southampton to be seventh in the table.
“But look at the table. If you win this weekend maybe you are sixth in the table and that’s because everyone is close to each other.
“There are only two points [to Palace], maybe your feeling is Palace’s season is better, after Saturday maybe not, maybe yes.”
Pardew, who was in charge at Southampton between 2009 and 2010, has seen his side lose just once in five league outings with an impressive win over Liverpool and a 5-1 mauling of Newcastle in that run.
A hard-fought 1-1 draw at Everton on Monday sees Palace go into their next match at Selhurst Park in high spirits and defender Scott Dann, a goal-scorer in that game, is targeting a European finish this term.
“We’re sixth after 15 games, and you have to be doing something right to be in that position after 15 games,” he told The Croydon Advertiser.
“If no one is willing to grasp those places for a European place, we’ll be there or thereabouts trying our best to do so.”
Koeman confirmed that goalkeeper Fraser Forster is back in training after a nine-month absence with a knee injury but is not ready to return this weekend, while Palace report no new injuries.
Key Opta Stats:
– Crystal Palace have only won back to back Premier League games at Selhurst Park once since April 2014.
– Sadio Mane has scored in both of his Premier League appearances against Crystal Palace.
– The Eagles have failed to score in six of their last seven league matches against Southampton.
– Crystal Palace have won none of their last 13 top-flight meetings with Southampton (D4 L9).
– In fact, Saints have won the last seven league games in a row against Crystal Palace across the Premier League and Championship.
– Southampton have lost just one of their last seven Premier League away games (W2 D4 L1), that defeat coming last time out against Manchester City.
– Crystal Palace have scored a league-high proportion of their goals from set-pieces this season (45 per cent).
– Jason Puncheon has attempted the most shots (28, incl. blocked) without scoring in the Premier League in 2015-16 so far.