Ralph Hasenhuttl sat down with the media on Friday to discuss Southampton’s upcoming clash against Arsenal.
The Austrian saw his side slump down to 18th place on the Premier League table in their last top-flight outing, as Cardiff City came away from St Mary’s Stadium with a 2-1 win.
Now, though, Southampton are looking ahead to an uphill battle at the Emirates Stadium, where Arsenal await.
Hasenhuttl discussed plenty of different topics in his pre-Gunners presser and delivered intriguing updates about his players’ conditions and his expectations for the future.
The manager delivered mixed injury news but revealed that a key duo could return to the squad for the trip to North London.
Take a look at our round-up of Hasenhuttl’s comments, as per the club’s official website.
On Michael Obafemi
Obafemi has been sidelined since netting his first senior goal in the 3-1 win away at Huddersfield Town.
However, fresh from penning a new contract at Southampton, he’s ready and available for action. Hasenhuttl praised the youngster and said:
“Michael Obafemi has trained the whole two weeks with the team – his injury has gone and he has no muscle problems anymore.
“The first important thing is he’s fit again. After his goal against Huddersfield, it was a long time out. For a young player, it’s always important to keep playing and developing their game.
“He has a few qualities that can be a weapon for us – his speed and his deep runs – so it’s good that he’s back.
“It’s good that his contract is signed, so he can concentrate 100 per cent on his work and his professionalism because he’s a young player and there’s still a lot of work to do with him.”
On Stuart Armstrong's fitness
Armstrong’s fitness throughout the season has come into question, and he was ruled out of the defeat against Cardiff City with a calf injury.
Hasenhuttl confirmed that the midfielder is set to return for Arsenal:
“Stuey Armstrong is back on the pitch, with no problems in the last two weeks.”
On who will miss the trip to Arsenal
Hasenhuttl confirmed that Danny Ings and Mario Lemina are still some way off returning to action. The striker is suffering from a hamstring problem, while the midfielder is on his way back from minor abdominal surgery.
The manager said of the pair:
“Mario Lemina still hasn’t trained with the team, but he’s getting better and better.
“Danny Ings is still out. The Arsenal game is too early; Man United and Fulham could be close, but I expect him back for the Tottenham game.”
On how many points Southampton will need to stay up
Southampton are sat on a meagre 24 points as they enter the business end of the season. Hasenhuttl acknowledged that the team desperately need to hit form, and set his men the target of 40 points. He said:
“I think we all know 24 is not enough. We will need 40 points, maybe, to stay in the league.
“Every point we take now is a good one, but we are focusing on our next game against a very good opponent who we have beaten once this year in a big game with a fantastic performance.”
On Saints' tactical battle with Arsenal
Hasenhuttl outdid Unai Emery at St Mary’s in the reverse fixture and will be determined to do so once again. He spoke about the tactical battle that will be on show at the Emirates and said:
“Maybe we won’t have as much ball possession, but I don’t know what shape they will play.
“We have a few changes in mind for what we will do with our team. It will be interesting tactically.”
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