Hasenhuttl seeks more quality

Ralph Hasenhuttl wants to add some quality to his squad this summer and is keen to ensure Southampton are not involved in another relegation battle.

The former RB Leipzig boss says he has "a very clear picture" of what Saints, who drew 1-1 with Huddersfield Town on the final day of the Premier League campaign, need.

Southampton flirted with relegation for the second season in a row and, although they eventually finished 16th, five points clear of the bottom three, Hasenhuttl is desperate to make sure they are not involved in another struggle to avoid the drop in 2019/20.

The Austrian said: "It is a very clear picture for me now what we are still missing in our game. Maybe we know that we only win games when we have the perfect commitment and shape and work perfect together.

"If there are a few guys not 100 per cent in the right direction then we are struggling always.

"That means we need more quality next season. It will be a difficult summer for sure because we have our limits with transfer fees and things like that but we must be clear that we have to make a few new players in the team.

"We need to create a new spirit and new mentality because we must give a different picture from the first game day. That's the goal and a clear message for the summer and we will work on this."

Southampton are 1/7 not to be relegated next season while Sheffield United can be backed at 6/5.

Romeu expecting Saints progress

Midfielder Oriol Romeu has backed his Southampton side to improve next season, having staved off the threat of relegation from the Premier League.

The Saints were in deep trouble at the turn of the year, but the arrival of new head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl saw a revival in their fortunes, with safety assured by a 3-3 draw with Bournemouth two weeks ago.

And former Chelsea and Barcelona man Romeu believes that there is now a positive feeling around the club which can be built on in the coming months.

He told Sky Sports News: "The beginning of the season was tough and not good enough, so getting there (safety) with two games to go was a great achievement and now we are all looking ahead to next season.

"We felt good the last two months and we feel we can do more and have enough potential to grow as a club.

"I'm pretty sure things will be better, but it's going to be another tough season. The Premier League doesn't give anything away and we need to work really hard to get in a good position."

The South Coast outfit round off their league campaign with a visit from rock-bottom Huddersfield Town on Sunday, with the Saints having won 3-1 when the two sides met in West Yorkshire just before Christmas.

Southampton are 4/11 to win on Sunday and are 13/2 to win the game 2-0, while Shane Long can be backed at 11/8 to score at any time.

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Targett heaps praise on Hasenhuttl

Southampton defender Matt Targett has hailed the impact made by head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl since he took charge of the Saints in December.

The Austrian has guided the South Coast outfit to Premier League safety, having overseen eight wins and seven draws among the 23 games he has been at the helm for.

And Targett, who scored his first goal for the club in the 3-3 draw with Bournemouth, is clear that Hasenhuttl should be taking much of the credit for the Saints pulling them away from relegation trouble.

He told the Daily Echo: "His impact since he came in has been incredible. He has worked us so hard and we have reaped the rewards of it.

"Every player has bought into his style of play, so it's a credit to us and a massive credit to him. It was a fresh start."

Targett also challenged his team to make a strong finish to the campaign, with their final two games seeing them visit West Ham before playing host to Huddersfield Town on the final day of the season.

He added: "It's always nice to finish on a high. We will go for the three points against West Ham away and then try to finish on a high in front of our fans."

Having lost 2-1 at home to the Hammers earlier this season, Saints are 9/1 to suffer a 2-1 reverse at the London Stadium on Saturday, with a 1-1 draw priced at 13/2.

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Saints survival delights Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl believes keeping Southampton in the Premier League is one of the biggest achievements of his managerial career to date.

The 51-year-old has managed to guide Saints to 29 points from 21 games and a 3-3 draw against Bournemouth on Saturday ensured Southampton will be playing top flight football next season.

Hasenhuttl was delighted with the result and feels his players deserve great credit, having found themselves with just nine points from 15 games when he took over at the start of December.

"It was really one of the most difficult jobs for me as a manager to come back with this team," said Hasenhuttl. "Everybody knows after my first game we were five behind Cardiff, with a very tough schedule over Christmas.

"We are very happy, and we have the feeling we deserve these points, because we did a lot for it. This is amazing, I think a bit tired after a very intense, crazy game.

"But happy, very happy, for the club, supporters, players staff, everybody who is with us. And to be safe two games before the end of the season is tremendous, amazing, sensational.

"The training camp in Tenerife after losing my first game at Cardiff (1-0) was a horrible situation. And how we built the belief there, it was really, really hard work and intensive.

"A lot of players showed you can expect much more from them than they had shown in the first part of the season. So I would like to thank the players for believing in that."

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Stanislas faces long lay-off

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has admitted that Junior Stanislas may miss the start of next season after being forced to endure a hamstring operation.

The 29-year-old former Burnley star could be sidelined for up to four months after picking up the injury in last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to relegated Fulham.

The Cherries have had to contend with a host of long-term injury victims this term including Simon Francis, Lewis Cook and Charlie Daniels.

"Junior Stanislas could be out for three to four months, it's a big blow for us," Howe said ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to Southampton.

Adam Smith, who picked up a muscle injury in the warm-up before the Fulham game, will also miss the clash at St Mary's, with Howe adding: "We'll have to see if he's back before the end of the season. We're hopeful he's not someone with a long-term injury.

"We'll need to be at our best [at Southampton]. It's so important for us to end the season strongly. We're hugely motivated to get the result."

Bournemouth, who are currently 14th in the Premier League table, are 31/10 to beat Southampton on Saturday. Saints are 200/1 to be relegated this season, while Brighton are 5/1 to go down and Cardiff City 1/8.

Long aiming to keep on firing

In-form Southampton striker Shane Long is hoping that his recent success will continue and help him to secure a new contract with the Saints.

The 32-year-old Republic of Ireland international found the net just twice last season, while he only had one to his name this term before scoring three times in his last four games to help the Saints pull themselves away from relegation danger.

That upturn in form has delighted Long, but he accepts that he needs to continue to deliver if he is to earn a new deal, with his current contract running out at the end of next season.

He told the Daily Echo: "I have only got a year left on my contract and I don't think I've earned the right to go knocking on the door and asking for more years.

"It's only three goals in four games, but I am hoping it's the start of a big turnaround in my career.

"I think the last couple of seasons have been tough and people have been good because they know how hard I work for the team and for what I give to the team.

"But when you are not scoring goals, it's hard as a striker."

Saints and Long are back in action on Saturday when they play host to Bournemouth, with the hosts six points above the Premier League drop zone with three games left to play.

Long can be backed at 7/4 to score at any time against the Cherries, with the home side 19/20 to win the game and 8/1 to do so by a 2-1 final scoreline.

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Hasenhuttl calls for final effort

Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has urged his players to finally ensure their Premier League survival by winning at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

The Saints are six points clear of the bottom three with three games to play, meaning that they are all but safe, despite conceding a last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Watford on Tuesday evening.

However, Hasenhuttl refuses to take anything for granted, telling reporters at vicarage Road: "We have 37 points and until we have 40 we do not speak about being safe.

"Now we have a home game against Bournemouth and if you'd told me that we'd have a chance to secure safety in that game when I took over, I'd have taken that.

"I am always positive because I see how our team plays. We have showed we can take points off every opponent."

Southampton are priced at 21/20 to defeat Bournemouth and are 17/2 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline, with a 2-2 draw available at 14/1.

Meanwhile, Hasenhuttl praised striker Shane Long, who netted after less than eight seconds against the Hornets and who has now scored three times in his last four appearances.

The Austrian added: "He was quick, too quick for the centre-back and it was a fantastic start.

"It shows that he can score and it's important for that we play a style that fits him well, because he's very quick."

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Deulofeu eyeing a big finish

Watford's Spanish forward Gerard Deulofeu says it would be his best season in the game if the Hornets finish strongly in both the FA Cup and the Premier League.

Javi Gracia's side currently lie in eighth place in the top-flight standings, but are level on points with seventh-placed Everton and have a game in hand on the Toffees – which comes on Tuesday evening when they play host to Southampton.

The Hornets have also made it through to the FA Cup final for only the second time in their history and Deulofeu is excited that two major targets remain up for grabs at such a late stage of the season.

He told the Watford Observer: "We are so happy to play one final and be fighting for a trophy, but first of all we want to finish seventh (in the league).

"We have tough games and we have to think first about those four games, otherwise we will go to the final in not the best way.

"It is going to be tough with a lot of games and we have to recover well. Maybe this week can decide the season. We want to finish well and finish seventh.

"But it will be the best season if we win the title (FA Cup) and we finish seventh in the Premier League."

Watford, who lost 2-0 to Everton in the 1984 FA Cup final, will face Manchester City in the Wembley finale this season.

The Hornets are priced at 5/4 to defeat Southampton on Tuesday and are 11/1 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline, while Watford can be backed at 5/1 to lift the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

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Perez pondering his options

In-form Newcastle United striker Ayoze Perez has admitted that he could be tempted to leave the club this summer, as he mulls his options for next season.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has been in prime form for the Magpies in recent weeks, scoring seven goals in his last nine games, including a hat-trick in the 3-1 weekend victory at home to Southampton.

However, Perez has now confirmed that he could be open to offers come the end of the season, having joined Newcastle from Tenerife in the summer of 2014.

He reportedly told The Mirror: "In the summer there are going to be options. That means I have done something well.

"I'll be up for hearing what is coming, but it doesn't mean I am going to leave 100 per cent at the end of the season. It is going to be a difficult decision and depends on a lot of things."

Perez is under contract with the Tynesiders until the summer of 2021, having netted 46 goals in 191 appearances in all competitions for the Magpies.

He had spoken about a potential return to his homeland a matter of weeks ago, telling El Chiringuito TV: "I believe in cycles, there comes a moment where you consider things.

"There comes a time for a change and, after five years, that time has probably come. To return to my country with a big team would be something good for my career."

Next up for Newcastle and Perez is a Saturday teatime trip to the Amex Stadium to take on an out-of-form Brighton side who have not scored in their last six games.

The Magpies 12/5 to claim all three points on the South Coast, while they are 15/2 to win the game by a 1-0 scoreline.

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Hasenhuttl demands perfection

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has called for a more aggressive attitude from his players when they take on Watford on Tuesday.

Saints are still not safe from relegation after losing 3-1 at Newcastle United on Saturday although they are five points clear of the bottom three before the trip to Vicarage Road.

Hasenhuttl knows it will not be easy to beat a Hornets side that have an FA Cup final against Manchester City to look forward to next month.

"The message must be that a little bit of playing football is not enough for us, so we have to be aggressive again," said the Austrian.

"We have to work harder than we did on Saturday in the first half because otherwise against Watford, a very strong team, it is again a big problem to take something. I think we have the quality to win there or to take a point, but we need a really, really clinical and perfect performance.

"As always, we know that we are flexible and can change the shape sometimes. We showed that again, that we can immediately change the shape and get more comfortable. But preparing for this game, we will have a look at what this opponent demands from us, and then we will decide."

Southampton are 12/5 to win Tuesday's match and 12/1 to beat the Hornets 2-1.