Monday, August 29, 2022

By Rachel Steinberg, PA

Ralph Hasenhuttl is confident Che Adams will bring the attacking power Southampton need when they face Chelsea on Tuesday night.

The Saints boss started Adams in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United after the Scotland international’s brace from off the bench made the difference in their 2-1 win over Leicester.

Adams had plenty of chances in the closely-fought United contest, but his boss was not hugely concerned by his striker’s inability to find the finishing touch.

“The goal was missing,” said Hasenhuttl, “But I think the shape and the behaviour we do at the moment really fits him.

“I can see he feels comfortable there in the centre as a single striker supported by the other two guys from outside.

“I’m sure that he will come very often in a position that he can score for us and this is what is our job to do.”

Saints lost both of their encounters with Chelsea last season, including a humiliating 6-0 rout by the Blues at St Mary’s in April.

Hasenhuttl, who went with a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday, said the shape seemed to be favouring more than just his striker, and had faith in his back line as they prepared to face another top side.

He explained: “It seems that we are more comfortable with a four, and that we have more players up front helps us, especially to create the chances. It’s always helpful when you have more quantity up front.

“Sure, there was inequality in some moments but one player more gives you more chances and I think there is a reason why we are not struggling at the moment to create chances, we are not struggling to defend.

“This is also good to see, the reverse gear is important against every team, against this top team even more. We had one time on Saturday [when it was] missing and immediately they punish you. This is a thing that always happens in the Premier League, but I think we are on a good way.”

Hasenhuttl was particularly pleased by the maturity his young players, including 20-year-old July signing Sekou Mara, who came off the bench on Saturday, have displayed under pressure.

He added: “[Mara] is happy that he gets chances to show up, that he gets a chance to come on the pitch. He had a good bicycle kick [on Saturday], and it was also not a bad idea in the long corner, so he has his special moments, I think, and this is his quality.

“With the ball the [young players are] so confident and wiling to show some good things.

“It’s sometimes more the work against the ball, where they have to be very disciplined in our shape and this is something they have to learn.

“But they’re very, very open-minded and learning very quick and it’s good to see. To have quality and youth is a good combination for getting better.”

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