(Reuters) - Southampton’s performance in Sunday’s FA Cup defeat by Chelsea shows the Saints have what it takes to avoid relegation from the Premier League, manager Mark Hughes has said ahead of Saturday’s crucial fixture against Bournemouth.
Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata helped Chelsea seal a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup semi-final to add to Southampton’s misery after a dismal league campaign.
Southampton, currently 18th with four matches remaining, are four points adrift of safety after winning only one of their last 21 league games.
Hughes, however, believes his side can collect crucial points against Bournemouth after a tough run of fixtures.
“We need to win against Bournemouth at home, a huge game. We’ve had fixtures against really good quality teams of late: Chelsea twice, Leicester away, Arsenal,” Hughes said.
“Big games that will always test us. But, maybe, the quality we’ll face in the next three to four games won’t be as high. If we acquit ourselves as well as we did in the last few games, I hope we’ll get the points we need.”
Hughes also questioned why the video assistant referee system (VAR) did not intervene to award Southampton an equalizer in the second half after Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero spilled the ball into his own net from a corner.
Southampton striker Charlie Austin was deemed to have fouled Caballero but replays showed that there was minimal contact between the duo during the incident.
“The goalkeeper’s made a wrong decision, basically thrown the ball into the back of his net,” Hughes said after the match.
“If ever there was a situation for VAR to play a hand and step in to review that, I would have thought that was an opportunity. It was a match-defining moment, a key moment.
“Who knows how the game might have followed from that moment? Why it wasn’t referred, I have no idea.”
Southampton also face Everton and Swansea City in their upcoming league fixtures before ending their campaign against champions Manchester City.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty