Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has urged his players to continue “defending their castle” and claim a much-needed home victory when Brentford visit St Mary’s Stadium.
The Saints are unbeaten in six home Premier League games ahead of Tuesday’s rearranged clash, which was postponed prior to Christmas due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Bees’ squad.
However, four of those games have finished level, including each of the last three against Leicester City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham, and Hasenhuttl acknowledged the importance of turning one point into all three.
“It is important for us that we have showed at home that we are defending our castle, if you like. We haven’t lost that many at home,” the Austrian said.
“Every point is helpful. To change sometimes the defeats we have had into draws is a big step forward.
“The next step then is, in these tight games, when we are one up, can we score the second or the third goal? That makes it easier to get over the line with the three points.”
Brentford are flying high in 12th, two points and two places better off than Southampton, after an impressive maiden campaign in the Premier League.
The Bees saw off Port Vale 4-1 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday and reached the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, where they were beaten by Chelsea, but boss Thomas Frank will not complain about the fixtures piling up.
“I like to nail the balance and still have maximum focus on the next game and then once you get into a rhythm it takes care of itself,” he said.
“Mixing and matching the team is very important for morale and togetherness so everyone feels a part of it. That’s so important.
“If you want to achieve anything it’s not just about the 11… it’s the 25 who will help you do that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – James Ward-Prowse
Ward-Prowse has scored in three successive Premier League matches and is aiming to find the net for a fourth time in a row for the first time in his career.
The England international’s opener in the recent 1-1 draw with Tottenham ended a run of 11 consecutive goals in the competition from either a penalty or direct free-kick.
Brentford – Bryan Mbeumo
Mbeumo became the first player in eight years to score a hat-trick as a substitute in the FA Cup with his treble off the bench against Port Vale.
The 22-year-old has three goals in 16 Premier League starts this campaign, a tally that he will be eager to add to should he be involved against Southampton.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This is the first ever top-flight meeting between Southampton and Brentford, with Saints winning the last league meeting between the sides in April 2011 (3-0 at Griffin Park).
– Brentford have won their last two away games against Southampton in all competitions, with both victories coming by a 2-0 scoreline in December 2010 (League One) and September 2020 (EFL Cup).
– Southampton have lost four of their last six Premier League games against promoted sides (W2), having won nine of their 10 previous such meetings (D1). Saints lost their last such home match (2-0 v Leeds United in May), but have not lost consecutive top-flight home games against promoted clubs since November 2001.
– The Saints won their first league game in both 2020 (v Spurs) and 2021 (v Liverpool) – only once have they won their first league game in three consecutive calendar years, doing so between 1969 and 1971.
– Southampton have lost just once at home in the Premier League this season (1-0 v Wolves), but have had more home draws than any other side in the competition this term (six). Each of their last three home games has finished level, with Saints last drawing four in a row at home in the top flight back in January 2005.