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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Ed Elliot, PA

Ralph Hasenhuttl knows Saints must improve if they are to finish in top half

Ralph Hasenhuttl has seen Southampton lose three successive home games (PA)

Ralph Hasenhuttl says it would be a major achievement for Southampton to achieve their target of a top-half Premier League finish but concedes they have “no chance” based on recent performances.

Saints were thrashed 6-0 at home by Chelsea last weekend and have collected only a solitary point from their past five top-flight games.

Despite the poor run of form, the south-coast club sit just a point behind 10th position going into their final seven fixtures, which begin on Saturday at home to Arsenal.

Manager Hasenhuttl admits his side can only afford a few more slip-ups if they are to fulfil ambitions.

“Our target this year is a top-10 finish and the chance this season is there definitely,” said the Austrian.

“This is a big goal for us. But definitely from these seven games we need to win a minimum of three or four because otherwise there is no chance to go there.

“It would be a massive achievement for us, definitely, and as long as the chances are there we have to fully concentrate on our performances.”

Southampton recorded four successive top-10 finishes between 2014 and 2017 but have not done so since.

Following the visit of the Gunners, Saints’ remaining matches include trips to Burnley, Brighton, Brentford and Leicester, plus home games against Crystal Palace and title-chasing Liverpool.

“If we play the way we played over Christmas – against the top teams as well we took points – then it is possible,” continued Hasenhuttl.

“If we don’t get back to this level, then we’ll have no chance.”

Results at St Mary’s have largely laid the foundations for Southampton’s solid season.

They were beaten only once in their opening 13 home games, enhancing their chances of finishing in the upper half of the division for the first time since the reign of Claude Puel.

But, following the hammering at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s European champions, Saints have now suffered three successive defeats in front of their own fans.

Hasenhuttl believes supporters had every right to vent their displeasure at the heavy loss to the Blues and says his team must tighten up defensively.

“I was not surprised fans were angry at us, we were 4-0 down at half-time and we fell down in what they expected from us,” he said.

“The performance was not good enough, so it was understandable.

“You can see how tough it is in the Premier League, we have shown perfect performances away with very good wins but in general we still concede too many goals and this is what we have to stop.

“It’s not always possible to score two or more goals to win a game. This is something we have to quickly change.”

Arsenal head to Hampshire seeking to revive their ailing hopes of Champions League qualification following back-to-back defeats against Palace and Brighton.

Mikel Arteta’s fifth-placed side are three points behind north London rivals Tottenham in the battle for the top four, albeit with a game in hand.

“They are like us, trying to find answers,” said Hasenhuttl. “You see how tough it is also for them.

“They have different targets and they want to get back to the Champions League, they have some injury problems now, but it is still a team on the way up. They have done a good job this season so far.

“They have a young team and like always with young teams, there are some ups and downs. For us, it is important to cause them issues.”

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