Dean Smith is hoping to put his recent knowledge of Southampton to good use when taking charge of his first Norwich City match at Carrow Road on Saturday.
The Englishman was sacked by Aston Villa a little under two weeks ago following a 1-0 loss away at Southampton.
Smith was back in work with bottom-of-the-table Norwich just eight days later, however, after the Canaries sacked Daniel Farke despite beating Brentford 2-1 in their last game.
City’s first match under their new head coach is against Southampton, making Smith the first Premier League manager to face an opponent in consecutive games in the same season with different clubs.
“The fact we’re facing Southampton helps me a little bit, as I don’t need to analyse them as much,” Smith said.
“We have really good backing from our supporters. I know they’ll be behind us Saturday. But we’re very respectful of Southampton, who are a hard team to play against.
“We need them to get behind us. The only way we’ll win football games is if we all pull together. It’s my first game as Norwich City head coach and I want to win the game.”
Including that narrow win over Villa last time out, Southampton have won back-to-back games to move up to 13th.
Rather than focus on the man in the opposition dugout, head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl wants his players to focus on their own game.
“We know Dean Smith, we know Norwich, but we’ll look only at ourselves and how we can prepare for everything that is facing us.
“They haven’t had much time to work. (Smith) has had international players who have gone away and only two sessions to work. It’s important here we go and show we can take points on the road.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Norwich City – Teemu Pukki
Finland international Pukki was on target from the penalty spot last time out at Brentford to make it three Premier League goals in 11 appearances this season. He has scored 35 per cent of Norwich’s goals in the Championship and Premier League (69/199) since the start of 2018-19 – only Aleksandar Mitrovic at Fulham (36 per cent) has scored a higher share of his team’s goals in the top four tiers of English football in that time.
Southampton – Adam Armstrong
Armstrong scored Southampton’s winner against Villa two weeks ago and set up Che Adams for the only goal in the 1-0 win over Watford the previous week. Hasenhuttl has plenty of options in attack, but Armstrong has come in for particular praise and seems nailed on to retain his place up top this weekend.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Norwich have lost four of their last five Premier League matches against Southampton (W1), losing both games the last time they faced in 2019-20 (2-1 away, 0-3 at home).
– Southampton have lost just two of their last 15 matches against Norwich in all competitions (W7 D6), winning their last three in a row; they last won four consecutively against the Canaries between 1956 and 1958.
– Norwich earned their first win in 21 Premier League games with victory at Brentford last time out. The Canaries last won back-to-back top-flight matches in April 2016.
– The Canaries are winless in their last 10 Premier League home games (D1 L9), netting just three goals in this run. It is the Canaries’ longest ever run without a top-flight victory at Carrow Road.
– Southampton have won three of their last four Premier League games (D1), as many as they had in their previous 18 in the competition (D5 L10). Saints are looking to secure three consecutive league wins for the first time since November 2020, a run which briefly took them to the top of the table.