MX23RW : Friday, June 18 19:14:43| >> :600:105987:105987:
Jan 19, 2019 at 3pm UK at St Mary's Stadium
Attendance: 29,989
Ward-Prowse (50'), Digne (64' og.)
FT(HT: 0-0)

Southampton have right balance to stay clear of relegation zone – Hasenhuttl

The Austrian boss hailed his back-three of Jack Stephens, Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard for helping transform Saints' play.

Ralph Hasenhuttl believes Southampton have found the right "balance" to kick clear of the Premier League relegation scrap.

The Austrian boss hailed his back-three of Jack Stephens, Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard for helping transform Saints' play both on and off the ball.

James Ward-Prowse and an own goal from Andre Gomes sealed Saints' 2-1 win over Everton at St Mary's on Saturday, leaving manager Hasenhuttl boosted by the quick progress on his watch.

Former RB Leipzig boss Hasenhuttl already boasts four wins in eight top-flight matches, where predecessor Mark Hughes claimed just three in 22.

"Jack Stephens has taken the place from Maya Yoshida, and you'd think he's been playing all the time, in this back five," said Hasenhuttl.

"We've worked a lot with this back five and we've found this shape and it's fitting perfectly for us.

"Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and Jannik Vestergaard have found each other, and I think they are a very good balance.

"They enjoy defending together and enjoy defending for the team."

Saints stepped into Saturday's Everton clash still smarting from their FA Cup third-round replay defeat to Derby, and its manner.

Hasenhuttl's men lost out to Frank Lampard's Rams in a penalty shoot-out, moving swiftly back into Premier League action with another 120 minutes of midweek action under their belts.

The new Saints boss hailed his side's response and victory over the Toffees as the performance of his short stint at the helm however, admitting delight at winning over the home crowd.

"You can feel it's a very positive atmosphere at the moment, everyone can identify with this team," said Hasenhuttl.

"The passion they show in every game is amazing and then the wins and all the good results come along the way.

"I think it was the best performance so far since I've been here as manager.

"You did not see that we were a team that was playing on Wednesday evening (for) 120 minutes.

"We were physically very strong but what I liked more was we were just footballing fantastic I think.

"You could feel that everybody is believing in what we are doing and it's only a question of time when we start to score or grab the win.

"I think in every kind (of play), against the ball and with the ball, (this was) our best performance so far and I am very happy about that."

Everton boss Marco Silva was left to rue further inconsistency from an expensively-assembled squad not yet realising its expected potential.

"It's our challenge, to come here to get a result, to keep winning, to be more consistent," said Silva.

"It's not something new. We have to look for ourselves because this is a little bit different from some of the other matches."

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James Ward-Prowse celebrates scoring for Southampton on January 19, 2019
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