Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has called on his players to produce the perfect performance when they tackle a Watford side enjoying an “outrageous” season.
The Saints were beaten 3-1 at Newcastle on Saturday, with a hat-trick from Ayoze Perez proving the difference.
Defeat for Cardiff at home to Liverpool on Sunday saw Southampton remain five points clear of the relegation zone, and having played a match less ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Vicarage Road.
Hasenhuttl knows his team cannot rest easy yet though and will need to recapture what had been solid recent form to get a positive result against the FA Cup finalists, who are still in the hunt for a top-seven finish.
“The message must be that a little bit of playing football is not enough for us, so we have to be aggressive again,” the Southampton boss said.
“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.”
Asked for his thoughts on Watford’s season so far, Hasenhuttl replied: “Outrageous. If they have the chance of the Europa League, it’s amazing because they are the best of the rest at the moment.
“To go there is nearly as difficult as to play against one of the top six, so we need a very, very good performance.”
Hasenhuttl does not believe Hornets boss Javi Gracia will allow any thoughts of walking out against Manchester City at Wembley on May 18 impact his team’s performance over their final games of the Premier League campaign.
“They have two chances to get into Europe, so they will try to grab the first one with both hands on Tuesday,” the Southampton manager said.
“For us, it’s about getting better in the game, like against Newcastle, and if we do so, then I am convinced about my team that we always can score, we always can win games, also away games, so I am not frightened about this game.
“But we must be clear that we need a better performance than on Saturday.”
Hasenhuttl switched to a four-man defence during Saturday’s match, having started with three at the back.
The Saints boss feels rotation is key to continued progress in the fight for Premier League safety.
“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,” Hasenhuttl said.
“But preparing for this game, we will have a look at what this opponent demands from us, and then we will decide.”
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