Southampton travel to Turf Moor on Saturday to take on Premier League strugglers Burnley.
Despite currently hovering just above the relegation zone themselves, the Saints have been reinvigorated since the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl and have been in fine form recently, going unbeaten in their least four Premier League outings.
However, they’ll face a stern test against Sean Dyche’s men, and Hasenhuttl would be wise to demonstrate his side’s adaptability by setting them up to go head to head with the Clarets in a physical battle.
Dyche’s Burnley are an unashamedly physical outfit, and will bully the south coast club if given the chance. In the past, the Saints themselves have been too lightweight against such opposition, however, they have players in their ranks with the requisite attributes to go toe to toe with Burnley.
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The likes of Jannik Vestergaard, Mario Lemina and Charlie Austin possess the physicality to match Burnley.
If Hasenhuttl’s side shy away from this aspect of Saturday’s encounter, then they will struggle to create and will be dominated in the aerial duels – a situation that Burnley will seek to exploit with regularity.
Whilst maintaining their passing football philosophy, Hasenhuttl must also be mindful to prepare his side for the physical battle that lays ahead of them on Saturday. Burnley have the likes of Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes and Peter Crouch to call upon in the final third, who will do damage if they aren’t properly contested in every duel.
Hasenhuttl must strike the right balance between taking a physical approach to the game and retaining his side’s increasingly impressive attacking, technical football, in order to give Southampton their greatest chance of returning to St Mary’s Stadium with all three points in tow.