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Koeman: Saints' rivals defensive

Ronald Koeman insists Southampton's goals have dried up due to their Barclays Premier League rivals giving them more respect.

Saints have slipped out of the Champions League places and into seventh following a run of three defeats in their last six games ahead of Saturday's home clash with Hull.

Koeman blames the slump on a lack of goals but rather than looking to his strikers for fault, he believes a change in approach from opponents has been the telling factor.

"It's not in my opinion a problem about one player - just look at the last few games," Koeman said.

"Even when we play away - for example last weekend against Everton - teams don't care about playing football at home, they defend. That is different to the beginning of the season.

"Now opponents don't care how they play against Southampton, they're happy to defend and they're concerned about getting points. At this point of the season, points are more important for them.

"We are not always scoring lots of goals and that's the difference. We are not getting the space we had in the beginning.

"It makes it more difficult because then there is not really a lot of space. Liverpool played with three centre-backs but with five defenders against Southampton, and Hull normally play with five defenders.

"That means there is not a lot of space, so you have to play very well or you need a player who makes an individual action and scores a goal.

"But those types of individual, high-quality players are not playing for Southampton."

Koeman believes Southampton's Champions League dream is over, but still covets a place in the Europa League.

"You have to be realistic. The difference to the top four is eight points and that is a lot. The focus at the moment has to be about fifth, sixth and seventh position in the table," he sad.

"We would like to play European football and fifth and sixth positions mean European football."

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