Southampton V Hull at St. Mary's Stadium : Match Preview

28 April 2017 05:34

Puel desperate for strong finish

Southampton manager Claude Puel stressed the importance of Saturday's home Premier League fixture with Hull in ensuring their season does not end in disappointment.

Their run to the Capital One Cup final, where they lost to Manchester United, and their mixed results in the Europa League, mean they require a top-half finish if Puel's first year at the club is to be considered a success.

They have lost their past two fixtures, against Chelsea and Manchester City, and against Hull face a team resiliently battling against relegation.

However Southampton also remain in contention to finish eighth, a respectful achievement given the quality and financial power of the top seven English teams, and Puel told his club's official website: "It's an important game for us after two losses.

"It's important now to move forward and to take points.

"We know to finish in the top half of the table is important for us and for the fans.

"Hull City are a good team with good technical players and they play good football. They won their last game with 10 men against 11 which shows good spirit.

"It's important in front of our own fans to have a good game and hopefully get a good result of course."

A third straight defeat could leave Southampton with little to play for in the five fixtures they would still have to play thereafter.

Puel again has Sam McQueen available after his return to training but despite Charlie Austin and Matt Targett also participating, Saturday's fixture comes too soon for each.

Marco Silva has admitted Hull's away form needs to change if they are to survive in the Premier League this season.

The Tigers currently sit 17th in the table, two points clear of Swansea with four games left, but they have been unable to pick up points on the road despite boasting an impressive home record.

Silva's side have won four home games on the bounce to boost their chances of staying up, but a poor away record means they have failed to pull away from Swansea, who kept pace with a 2-0 win over Stoke.

Last weekend's win over Watford maintained an unbeaten home record under Silva, but they are currently without a win away from the KCOM Stadium since August 20 and have lost the last five on the trot, with Silva acknowledging the need to alter their approach.

"We need to change, of course we need to change," he said.

"We analysed the last game like normal, and I think it's clear to me and I hope it's clear for our players what we need to do differently. We lost last time we played away.

"We need to keep focus always and play with the same confidence we do at home. We need to keep focus, we conceded goals away on the counter-attack.

"It is important we understand this situation and keep our concentration always."

He added: "We prepare in the same way and change nothing for games away or home and I want our players to play the same way.

"Of course it's not easy - I want our players to play football, be focused, respect our plan and play with confidence."

Silva has been boosted by the successful appeal against the straight red card shown to Oumar Niasse in the first half against Watford.

The on-loan Everton forward had been due to miss the next three matches after Robert Madley sent him off for a challenge on M'Baye Niang, but the Football Association overturned the decision following an appeal from Hull.

Niasse, who has been an important player for Silva, is expected to lead the line once again at St Mary's.

Source: PAR