Ronald Koeman will not allow Southampton to rest on their laurels against Stoke City as they continue to chase a European place.
Having equalled the club’s record Premier League points tally of 56 from last season in the 2-0 victory over Hull City last weekend, Southampton now face a tough trip to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
Koeman, though, is not concerned about potentially setting a new milestone, instead calling for focus against an ever-improving Stoke as Southampton try to beat Liverpool and Tottenham for a top-five finish.
“It is a difficult game that we have experienced twice this season,” he said. “We won both games [one in the League Cup fourth round] but they were difficult.
“We know their qualities. I think if you watch this season they brought in some good technical players, and they have good football players.
“If you only mention direct play it’s not respectful because they like to play good football. They are a strong team, maybe the strongest in the league in terms of physicality, they like to press.
“If we’re not on our game, we’re in for a difficult afternoon. Luckily, the weather will be good this weekend, it will be less windy than usual.”
Both sides go into the game with a point to prove as Southampton strive to end a three-game winless away run and Stoke are without a victory in their last four outings, a last-gasp 1-1 draw at West Ham last weekend preventing a fourth successive defeat.
Injuries have hampered Stoke this season, with Victor Moses the most recent player to have been sidelined.
The on-loan Chelsea forward is likely to miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury sustained at Upton Park, but manager Mark Hughes is determined for his side to continue to progress despite another setback.
“From our point of view I think it’s a good opportunity to show where we are,” he told the club’s official website. “They have had a good season and quite rightly so they’ve received a lot of plaudits.
“We’ve probably been somewhat under the radar in comparison but I think it’s an opportunity for us to show how far we’ve come as well.”
Moses joins Bojan Krkic and Peter Odemwingie out of action, placing further pressure on Stoke’s remaining fit forwards – Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters and Mame Biram Diouf.
Southampton have no new injury worries, with Florin Gardos back in contention, but Victor Wanyama is out as he begins a two-match suspension for amassing his 10th yellow card.
The corresponding fixture between Stoke and Southampton from last season was notable for goalkeeper Asmir Begovic netting after 13 seconds in a 1-1 draw.
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