Ralph Hasenhuttl wary of ‘wounded’ Arsenal as Southampton prepare to face them at St Mary’s

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Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is wary of a strong response from Arsenal after they suffered back-to-back defeats. IMAGE/COURTESY

By Sky sports for Lolwe digital

Ralph Hasenhuttl is wary of the threat posed by Arsenal as the Southampton manager looks to improve on their wretched run of results at St Mary’s.

After an unbeaten Premier League start to 2020 under Mikel Arteta, things unraveled spectacularly in the Gunners’ two matches since play resumed after the coronavirus suspension.

Last Wednesday’s 3-0 loss at Manchester City could easily have been worse and was compounded by a 2-1 collapse at Brighton, when injury issues added to their troubles.

In contrast, Southampton turned in an impressive performance as they beat bottom club Norwich 3-0 at Carrow Road on Friday evening.

Saints were seconds away from winning at the Emirates Stadium in November only for the game to end 2-2 and Hasenhuttl is wary of the threat Arteta’s side pose, despite their recent struggles.

“He has a strong team – it’s never or a good moment [to play them],” Hasenhuttl said as he looked ahead to Thursday night’s Sky Live game.

“It’s always difficult because they have quality, they have fantastic players and it’s always to play the game.

“Even if they have a few injuries, the quality is so big they can absolutely hit back immediately and if you give them a little space, they are unstoppable with their speed.

“We must really take care, really pay attention of everything and finally make it a very good game.”

Southampton have struggled at home this season, having won just four of their 15 league matches at St Mary’s.

Their 14-point total is the worst home record in the league and contrasts markedly with the 23 picked up on the road – a record only bettered by Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Leicester and Wolves.

The return to St Mary’s will be unusual given matches have to be played behind closed doors, but Hasenhuttl knows it offers the chance to end their home travails before fans return.

Hasenhuttl added: “It could be a chance for reset and it can’t get worse, I think. If you are successful enough, it looks like you can only play without our fans at home.

“But I think it’s absolutely necessary to show that we can win more games at home, with our crowd or not.”

Augsburg defender Kevin Danso and Tottenham’s Kyle Walker-Peters will be available for the run-in after their loans were extended.

Hasenhuttl has suggested they will be given the opportunity to impress in the final games of the season ahead of a decision on whether they will be offered permanent deals.

“Like Kyle, [we] haven’t decided yet,” he said.

“Let them play the last eight games, let me look how far he is in his development, how quick he takes it and we have time to decide.

“Everybody should get the chance to show up in the last games.”