Claude Puel calls for calm heads after West Brom defeat
Claude Puel has called on Southampton to keep calm and produce a season-defining result in Monday's Premier League clash at Everton.
Saints boss Puel admitted Saturday's 2-1 home loss to West Brom has created a "difficult moment" for the south coast club, who have suffered more league losses than draws or wins.
Southampton were toasting a 1-0 win over their former manager Ronald Koeman's Everton as recently as November 27, but will travel to Goodison Park more in hope than expectation when it comes to chasing a quick-fire double.
Saints' muddled attacking blueprint led directly to the West Brom defeat, their seventh in the league already this term.
"It's important to keep calm, maintain good spirit and produce a good reaction for the next game," said Puel.
"We must have strong character, and the work is what's important for us to look after for the next game.
"It's a difficult moment, but I have confidence in all my players.
"We need to show a good reaction, produce a good performance and hopefully, of course, a result."
Puel admitted Southampton's glaring lack of final-third bite is hampering his side.
The former Nice manager lamented Saints' near 70 per cent possession against West Brom that only yielded one attempt on target, Shane Long's headed goal.
"It's not enough," said Puel of his side's ratio of chances to possession.
"We knew it would be a difficult game, but we lost concentration after our goal, and that is our own fault."
Virgil van Dijk will miss the Everton clash after picking up a late red card against West Brom, given his marching orders for a second booking.
Club captain Jose Fonte should fill the void after sitting on the bench against the Baggies as Puel continues his rotation policy.
Serbia playmaker Dusan Tadic has struggled to reproduce the form that brought 12 assists in 27 Premier League games last term, amid Puel's misfiring attacking set-up.
The 28-year-old did lay on Long's header against West Brom however with a pinpoint corner, leaving Puel hopeful the arch goal-maker can now quickly rediscover top form.
"I hope Dusan can raise his level and step by step make the difference," said Puel.
"He's of course an important player for the future, especially with Sofiane Boufal off to the African Nations Cup after the Everton game.
"I think Dusan and Sofiane can continue to build a good relationship between their play, that's progress for the future.
"But now the most important thing is for us to give a good answer, a good reaction against Everton."