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Ralph Hasenhuttl asks Southampton to focus on own strengths against Everton

Everton v Southampton – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Clive Brunskill/NMC Pool)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl wants his side to focus on their own strengths rather than worry about Everton’s impressive start to the new Premier League season.

The Toffees head to St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday unbeaten from five league games, with last weekend’s 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby keeping them top.

Hasenhuttl, though, feels his men can take encouragement from the way they battled back from trailing 2-0 at Chelsea inside half-an-hour to earn a 3-3 draw with a stoppage-time equaliser.

“It is not a coincidence why Everton are in such a high position in the table at the moment, because they played such fantastic football for the first few games,” the Southampton manager said.

“It shows that when you work and have a good start, when you are competitive, that you can win against every team in this league – and this is also a goal for us.”

Hasenhuttl continued: “We saw it last week in our game against Chelsea, normally you think a team of this quality – when they are two goals up – you do not have a lot of chances, but we think differently at the moment.

“We are thinking about our qualities and how to bring our qualities on the pitch – which we didn’t in the first half against Chelsea.

“But in the second half, we showed a different face and were the better team, that is the reason why we got a point there.

“This is the way we want to go. Also whether it is against Everton or (Aston) Villa the following week, who are amazing at the moment, that is not interesting – what is interesting is how we do it.”

October 25 will mark a year since Southampton were humiliated 9-0 at home by Leicester.

Hasenhuttl can now look back on the bitter disappointment of that wet Friday night at St Mary’s with a clear head and reflect on a nadir which may well have served as a reset point.

“Since then, a lot of things have happened, and not in a bad way I think,” said Hasenhuttl, whose side impressed following Project Restart to eventually finish 11th.

“I thought ‘OK maybe this happens’, and everything is possible in the Premier League.

“You have to make this experience once in your life, you don’t need to have it more often.

“It was not the worst (thing to happen), as long as you make the right decisions afterwards.

“It is part of our history, but when you see the whole story, it also shows you a 9-0 defeat was not the end of the world, it can also be the start of something new, something better.

“Since then we have made good progress and I don’t have it in my mind anymore.

“If it wasn’t spoken about again, I would have forgotten it maybe.”