(Reuters) - Southampton manager Claude Puel has urged his players to keep things simple in front of goal after they failed to break down 10-man Stoke City in Wednesday’s goalless draw.
Southampton have often had to bank on their impressive defence to earn points as they have scored just four goals in their last eight Premier League matches, and eight in 12 away matches in all competitions this season.
“Perhaps sometimes (there is a lack of confidence) but it’s important to keep lucidity and calm, and sometimes we are too nervous to make the most of the superiority,” Puel told British media.
“It’s important now this situation to play repeat passes and to play simple and to find the solution and after to try also to shoot. It’s not enough but it’s important to look forward and just to correct this.”
Defender Virgil van Dijk has stressed Puel’s tactics were not to be blamed for the toothless attacking displays so far.
“It’s not the system. It’s that bit of quality. That bit of luck. We play with wingers now and we change it up sometimes, but we have the players to break teams down,” Van Dijk said.
“We have 12 clean sheets this season but we still have a negative goal difference. That’s not good enough. We need to improve, but also it’s not the front men that need to score. It’s everyone.”
Ninth-placed Southampton will travel to face south coast rivals Bournemouth, in 10th, and left back Ryan Bertrand was certain the Saints can bank on their stubborn defence to keep a third successive clean sheet.
“There’s a bit of a rivalry, but we’ll dust ourselves down from tonight (Wednesday) and take full confidence from the last two games to take it into that one,” Bertrand said.
“We have to respect them but we’ll just go about our business as normal and go there looking to upset them for the three points.”
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly