Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino dismissed claims his side only lift for clashes against big clubs ahead of their meeting with Chelsea.
Pochettino’s men have emerged victorious against giants Manchester City and Liverpool at St Mary’s over the past two months, but also fell to Queens Park Rangers and were held to draws by Norwich and Wigan in the same stretch.
But the Argentine manager moved to deny suggestions on Thursday that his players struggle to display the same intensity against lesser opponents in the English Premier League.
“I don’t fully agree with that,” Pochettino told the club’s website.
“If you look at the victories we got against Manchester City and Liverpool it might look like we raise our game against those teams, but I don’t think that is the case because we played well against Wigan and Norwich, but perhaps weren’t lucky enough to get the three points in those games.
“We had a very good result against Liverpool and when you get a result like that you want to carry on playing games trying to get more results like that.”
Pochettino said it was important for his squad to stay focused and prepare well after the international break.
“We knew all about the calendar and that the international break was coming, so there was nothing we could do to change that, we just need to be really focused and on top form for the visit of Chelsea,” he said.
“We have worked really well with the players that were available to us over the two weeks.
“It was a shame that when we have a lot more time available to work that the international players are not available, but that is the way things are and we have to accept that.
“We hope that all the international players report back uninjured and fully focused on the game at the weekend.
“Everyone has arrived back apart from Gaston (Ramirez) who will arrive on Friday morning because his flight back from Chile was delayed due to a fault with the plane, so we will see how he arrives and make a decision on him.”
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