English Premiership

Southampton ready to slug it out

2015-11-02 08:50
Ronald Koeman (Getty Images)

Southampton - Ronald Koeman claims Southampton are ready to slug it out with the Premier League's heavyweights after producing one of the best performances of his reign.

Koeman's side climbed to seventh in the table with a 2-0 victory over local rivals Bournemouth on Sunday that showcased the creativity and intelligence of a squad approaching the peak of their powers.

Since arriving on the south-coast last year Koeman has subtly shifted the emphasis from predecessor Mauricio Pochettino's pressing game to a more eye-catching style of play.

The Dutchman's purist philosophy has been embraced by his players, as Bournemouth found to their cost when they were left flat-footed and bewildered in the first half at St Mary's.

A superb Southampton move cut through the visitors' defence as Steven Davis opened the scoring in the 31st minute and five minutes later in-form Italy striker Graziano Pelle headed home the decisive second goal.

Now, after clinching a Europa League berth last season, Koeman would love to challenge for a Champions League place, especially in a season when top four regulars Chelsea's crisis has opened up a space for a potential newcomer.

"We can be competitive with big clubs in the Premier League, that we know," Koeman said.

"We aren't so worried with the position in the table. We know we can beat everyone.

"Every day we have to work hard and try to do better, then the quality makes a difference.

"It is too early to make conclusions about that (the top four). There are still 27 games to play, it is a long way and I'm not sure Chelsea will be struggling at the end."

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