London - Southampton
manager Claude Puel urged his side to focus on their Europa League
experience as they face three games in six days, starting with Tottenham
Saints host Tottenham at St Mary’s in the first of their three Christmas-period fixtures in just 117 hours, by far the toughest schedule among Premier League teams over the holiday period.
However, Puel said the Saints have dealt with similar scenarios before in Europe.
“It’s the first time, but for example when we played the European games on Thursday and we played Sunday on the afternoon just two days and a few hours. It’s the same I think," he said.
After facing Spurs, Saints host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and then have 46 hours before they play Everton at Goodison Park, about 400km away.
“We can do since the beginning of the season very strong for this squad to play all these games and to play European games on Thursday is very difficult, but we do this since the beginning of the season."
The main reason for the packed schedule was the Tottenham game being moved from Boxing Day to tonight for broadcasting reasons, with the move likely to prompt a lot of squad rotation.
“I know we can have many possibilities,” Puel said of his potential line-up. “I hope we can keep all the players with good fit because we developed since the beginning of the season now two teams with possibilities for all the positions."
“We can turn and change the team at the start every time."
"This is important with the time between games very very short. We can have a solution."
He insisted that his players were up to the challenge.
“It’s important to keep all the players with a good fit and to pass all these games with a good spirit, good fit and good results."
Southampton are eighth on the Premier League table, two points behind Tottenham with a game in hand.
Kick off is scheduled for 21:45.