Ralph Hasenhuttl challenges Southampton to do double over Arsenal

The sides meet twice in quick succession.

By Press Association Published: 22 January 2021 - 9.00am

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has challenged his side to beat FA Cup holders Arsenal twice in four days.

The two sides clash in the fourth round of the cup on Saturday at St Mary’s Stadium and meet again at the same venue in the Premier League next Tuesday.

The Saints are bidding to improve on last season’s 11th-placed top-flight finish, but Hasenhuttl said he will not be prioritising either game.

“I’d prefer winning both to be honest, if it’s possible we’ll do it, but I know it’s tough,” the 53-year-old Austrian said.

“Yes, we have the chance to I think. On our day we can beat any team in the league, we’ve shown this, especially at home.

“I think this is the goal we have. Yes, tough like always, but not impossible.”

Hasenhuttl, without nine injured players in midweek, blended youth with experience when making seven changes for his side’s 2-0 third-round win against Shrewsbury.

If Southampton beat Arsenal on Saturday and progress to the fifth round, they will play six matches in 19 days, but Hasenhuttl is not about to sacrifice the cup.

“It’s a busy time now with a lot of games coming up. We have an FA Cup week, if you want, two games in a week in the cup,” he said.

“It’s a new challenge and in this competition we want to go as far as possible.”

Danny Ings has provided the Saints with a major boost as he is available again after recovering from a hamstring strain and coronavirus.

But eight players remain unavailable, the latest casualty being midfielder Will Smallbone, who has been ruled out for six months with anterior cruciate ligament damage.

Jannik Vestergaard (knee), Oriol Romeu (calf), Moussa Djenepo, Michael Obafemi (both thigh), Nathan Redmond (hip), Nathan Tella and Mohammed Salisu (both muscle strains) are all nursing injuries.

Hasenhuttl said he could not recall having so many injuries at the same time in his managerial career.

“I cannot remember, no,” he said. “But I also cannot remember that we ever had such a situation like we have at the moment with massive games in the short term.

“Less recovery options here, we cannot use any facilities indoors. No pre-season at all. I had never such a situation. This is the reason why I can also not remember having so many problems with injuries.”

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