RALPH Hasenhuttl insisted Saints must not reduce Manchester City to only Erling Haaland but claimed Pep Guardiola has shown “respect” to Saints through resting key players.
Haaland took his season’s tally to 19 in just 12 appearances in all competitions with a double in City’s 5-0 midweek Champions League win against Copenhagen.
Hasenhuttl’s side will attempt to stop the red-hot Norway striker on Saturday when they take on City at the Etihad Stadium.
“It’s not that surprising that a good player coming into a good team can be a successful goal scorer,” Hasenhuttl said. “This is not that surprising for me.
“He’s scored goals for every club he has played for so far and this is by far the best club he has played for, so there’s not one reason why he shouldn’t do it at this club also.
“He’s an exceptional player and he’s playing in an exceptional team. It’s what everyone sees now and fantastic for the Premier League that players like him are coming to us.”
Saints rose to the challenge in both league games against Pep Guardiola’s side last season, drawing 0-0 at the Etihad and 1-1 at St Mary’s.
But Hasenhuttl’s side were eventually overrun in a hard-fought 4-1 home FA Cup quarter-final defeat by City in March.
The Austrian, under some pressure after three straight league defeats and his side winless on the road since late August, warned City are by no means a one-man team.
“They have more players who you have to concentrate on,” he added. “If you’re only looking at Erling Haaland you’re not going to win this game.
“We have shown in the past against a strong side that we are competitive and this year they are even stronger and it’s a good challenge for us to show again if we are able to take something.
“I think they had a good transfer market and definitely improved their offensive quality with an upgrade for Gabriel Jesus - who’s also not such a ‘bad player’- Erling Haaland, who’s doing it even better.
“You’ve seen it also yesterday in a game (against Copenhagen in the Champions League) – it’s not easy to defend against them. We’ll find a way to do it.
“I think they had very often situations when they dominated the league and scored goals. The fact is that they didn’t underestimate us, when you hear Pep talking after the game, then you know that he wants to come with the best possible squad against us.
“It’s kind of respect to us - it doesn’t make it easier for us but okay, we are going and remembering that we had good games against them and finally we want to be a team that is showing their qualities.”
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