Watford vs Southampton preview: Ralph Hasenhuttl warns of Watford's danger
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Last Updated: 23/04/19 6:52pm
Ralph Hasenhuttl has warned his players they will need to be on top form to curb Watford's "outrageous" season on Tuesday night.
The Saints were beaten 3-1 at Newcastle on Saturday, with a hat-trick from Ayoze Perez proving the difference, missing the chance to all-but secure Premier League safety.
Instead, defeat for Cardiff at home to Liverpool on Sunday saw Southampton remain five points clear of the relegation zone, with the Saints still holding a game in hand ahead of Tuesday's trip to Vicarage Road.
"The message must be that a little bit of playing football is not enough for us, so we have to be aggressive again," the Southampton boss said.
"We have to work harder than we did on Saturday in the first half because otherwise against Watford, a very strong team, it is again a big problem to take something. I think we have the quality to win there or to take a point, but we need a really, really clinical and perfect performance."
Asked for his thoughts on Watford's season so far, Hasenhuttl replied: "Outrageous. If they have the chance of the Europa League, it's amazing because they are the best of the rest at the moment.
"To go there is nearly as difficult as to play against one of the top six, so we need a very, very good performance."
Javi Gracia has demanded his players keep up their hunger for Premier League points despite having already guaranteed their best-ever Premier League tally, and with an FA Cup final to look forward to as well.
He said: "I think before playing the game, my players know perfectly that we need the points more than them. It is the best mentality to get the points available. If we don't play with that feeling it is difficult to get results.
"They really need the points as well. We try to compete as well as possible because I'm sure we will have to if we want the points.
"All of the teams are honest and always they play very well and it is always difficult to get points in the different circumstances.
Watford remain without suspended captain Troy Deeney for Tuesday's Premier League visit of Southampton.
The striker was sent off in the recent defeat to Arsenal and serves the second of a three-match ban.
Tom Cleverley (calf), Domingos Quina (shoulder) and Jose Holebas (hamstring) are still missing although Roberto Pereyra and Adalberto Penaranda are in contention after overcoming hip and hamstring injuries respectively.
Southampton will continue to assess defenders Jannik Vestergaard and Yan Valery ahead of the trip to Watford.
Vestergaard (groin) and Valery (illness) both missed Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Newcastle, along with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and defender Matt Targett, who are carrying unspecified fitness issues.
Midfielder Mario Lemina made his return from three months out with an abdominal problem when he came off the bench to score in the second half at St James' Park, so could be involved again. Forward Michael Obafemi (hamstring) continues his rehabilitation.
- Since beating Southampton in six consecutive meetings between November 2004 and October 2008, Watford have only managed one victory in their last 11 matches against Saints in all competitions (D5 L5), a 2-0 win in September 2017.
- Having lost their first top-flight visit to Watford in January 1983, Southampton have since lost just one of nine such trips (W2 D6), a 3-2 defeat in December 1999 in what was the first ever Premier League match between the two sides.
- Five of Watford's six home league defeats this season have been against sides currently in the top six, with a 0-4 loss against Bournemouth in October the exception.
- This will be Southampton's first Premier League game on a Tuesday this season, making this just the second campaign in the competition in which they've played on all seven days of the week (also 2014-15).
- Watford have conceded in each of their last eight Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition.
- Southampton have lost three of their last four Premier League away games (W1), having remained unbeaten in their previous four on the road in the competition (W2 D2).
- Four of Southampton's last five Premier League away goals have come from outside the box - just four of their previous 44 goals on the road in the competition had come from outside the box.
- Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure has scored in three of his four Premier League appearances against Southampton, including both games played at Vicarage Road.
- Charlie Austin has scored four goals in his last three league starts against Watford, although he is yet to start against them for Southampton.
- Gerard Deulofeu has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last nine appearances for Watford in all competitions (8 goals, 2 assists), though just one of these goal involvements has come at Vicarage Road (assist vs Leicester).
Paul Merson's prediction
I think Southampton will be alright, but they will be disappointed with their result at Newcastle. Cardiff only need to get a win somewhere and it could be game on and Southampton will be back in it. If Cardiff beat Fulham on Saturday they would only be two points behind Southampton.
Watford are a good team, although every time I say that they lose! They did the job at Huddersfield and are still rolling on in that fight for seventh. That is a big thing for the teams outside the top six, they have their own league and whoever comes in seventh has won it.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1