Pochettino wants solid Saints

05 December 2013 04:31

Southampton's superb start to the season has come to a shuddering halt after succumbing to three successive defeats for the first time under Mauricio Pochettino.

Saints' blend of attractive, energetic football combined with a focus on homegrown talent has seen praise heaped on the work being done at St Mary's.

Less than two weeks ago they could have gone top of the Barclays Premier League with victory at Arsenal, yet defeat at the Emirates, then Chelsea and, most surprisingly, at home to Aston Villa has seen them slump to eighth.

Wednesday's 3-2 loss may have been harsh on Saints, but it still marks a first home loss of the season and makes it three defeats in a row.

Next up is the unenviable task of thwarting high-flying Manchester City this weekend, when a result similar to February's 3-1 victory at St Mary's - Pochettino's first win at the helm - would not go amiss.

"Of course, we wanted to bounce back, but we lacked what we always had: solidity at the back," the Saints boss said after the Villa match.

"When an opponent arrives four times and scores three goals, you know you're lacking solidity at the back.

"But I cannot fault my players for anything because they put in a great performance. We tried as much as we could but it just wasn't to be.

"It is clear that we're on a bad run at the moment. I'm not going to deny that.

"But we have to be strong, we have to keep on working, we have to keep on working as we have been so far.

"We're experiencing the other side of football, which is a negative side, but we have to keep on going and recover because we have a very tough game on Saturday."

Southampton are not just losing matches at the moment, but players too.

Artur Boruc, one of Saints' star performers this term, faces six weeks on the sidelines with a fractured hand - an injury compounded by the absence of back-up goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

It meant Paulo Gazzaniga was handed his first start in a year against Villa, against who Victor Wanyama and Nathaniel Clyne went off injured.

Morgan Schneiderlin, Guly do Prado and Danny Fox are also on the sidelines, while Jose Fonte was nursing a knock against the Midlanders.

But despite those mounting issues, Pochettino is not thinking about addressing the squad depth when the January transfer window opens.

"We need to be relaxed," the Argentinian said. "The most important thing in football is to be relaxed.

"We need to analyse deeply the situation and we will decide in January, when we can actually make the decisions. Right now we cannot.

"The most important thing is to recover my players, to recover the situation and we need to recover from this defeat mentally.

"We need to think about to Saturday's game and have to think 100 per cent positively about the City game."

While Saints ready themselves for in-form City, Villa head to struggling Fulham in a top-10 position.

Paul Lambert's side have been slowly creeping up the table and the victory at St Mary's moves them within a win of Manchester United.

"I don't really look at the table until May," Lambert said after Villa's win, courtesy of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Libor Kozak and Fabian Delph efforts.

"We have done great and we're so far ahead of last year in everything we're doing, but still miles away from where we want to get to.

"But we are growing, look really good at the minute. We have a young side with energy and we keep building the football club.

"We're three points behind Manchester United. If anyone had said that at the start of the season, nobody would have believed you."

Source: PA