Football - Pochettino keeps focus amid praise

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino is refusing to let increasing praise for his team distract them as they prepare for a physical battle at Stoke on Saturday.

PA Sport
Premier League - Pochettino quiet on future
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Mauricio Pochettino (PA Photos)

Saints moved to third in the Barclays Premier League - albeit only for a few hours - last weekend after beating Fulham at St Mary's to claim their fifth victory of the season.

While they were subsequently overtaken by Chelsea and Tottenham, Southampton are still in fifth, just four points off leaders Arsenal and with European qualification being mooted as an ever more realistic possibility.

Pochettino, though, is adamant his side will not listen to such talk and his players are likely to heed his words given the positive results of his demanding approach.

The Argentinian told Saints Player: "It makes me happy for the fans and for the players as well.

"It's always nice to get some recognition from the media, it makes me happy for the chairman as well as it's all part of this club, but at the same time, my focus is on the staff and trying to improve on every single game and I'm 100 per cent focused on doing the best for this team and this club."

He added: "We always aim to maintain the same focus in training and training with the same intensity, so we just want to keep on training hard.

"It's clear that when you win you get a good atmosphere within the team and the club which is a very good thing, but we need to stay grounded and keep on training hard and looking ahead to the next game."

In contrast to Saints' good form which sees them unbeaten in six games, their hosts are struggling at the wrong end of the table and have not tasted victory since August 31.

Pochettino does not, though, expect anything other than a gruelling outing.

"We expect a very tough and physical game," Pochettino said.

"It's going to be very difficult and tough.

"On average they have the tallest team in the league, so I think they still have some aspects from when Tony Pulis was manager, but there some new aspects that Mark Hughes has introduced to the team and I think that it's a team which over 90 minutes is able to do two different styles.

"They can go for the long ball but also the short one so, overall, we expect a very tough encounter."

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