Belfast Telegraph

Koeman: Swans have similar style

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman sees similarities in his side and Saturday's Premier League opponents Swansea as he targets an extension to Saints' impressive start to the season.

The Dutchman has begun life at St Mary's well, despite first having to oversee a summer squad overhaul, and Saints enter this weekend's fixtures in fourth place.

"It's so fast into the season but what I am happy about is that, after a lot of changes in the team, the team is doing well," Koeman said.

"The team shows a good spirit, the team shows ambition and we had a great game last Saturday (beating Newcastle 4-0) for our fans.

"This Saturday is a new one, it's another one. Okay, we would like to keep winning and continue winning. If you win, you win points and you will be up in the table and we will see where it ends.

"If we play like our philosophy then normally we will be up in the league, because we have a good team, we have good players and we need time.

"We know that, but until now I am very happy with the performance of Southampton."

Swansea won their first three matches until defeat at Chelsea last time out.

"It's nice to see how they play, because it's similar to what we like to do and how we like to play," Koeman added.

"It's a team who do very good pressing in midfield and a team who like to dominate the opponent.

"It's similar to what we like to do and how we play. I think that will be very interesting this Saturday."

While Saints saw the likes of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers depart in the summer, Swansea were able to hold on to their best players.

Asked if he was surprised, Koeman added: "On one side yes, because I read of some interest from some big clubs.

"I think it's the best for Swansea. You try always to keep the best players and they did it."

Striker Wilfried Bony was among those linked with a move, having impressed in his first season since his arrival from Vitesse Arnhem.

Like with Graziano Pelle, scorer of four goals in his first five games for Saints since moving from Holland, Koeman had few doubts Bony would be a success.

"Bony I know very well," Koeman added.

"He was in Holland very strong. Pelle was also in Holland strong. Bony too was strong.

"Both players are showing that they can reach the level of the Premier League. I'm not surprised about that.

"Bony is physical, he's a goalscorer and, okay, I'm not surprised that he is playing at a good level for Swansea."

Sadio Mane continues to be absent for Southampton.

The Senegal midfielder has received his work permit and joined up with his team-mates on Friday, and will be assessed to see if he can make his debut in next Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash at Arsenal.

Striker Shane Long has shaken off a head knock.

Swansea boss Garry Monk insists there are no hard feelings between him and Koeman ahead of their Liberty Stadium meeting.

Koeman expressed his interest in the Swansea job last March following Michael Laudrup's departure and Monk stepping into the role of caretaker manager.

The former Holland defender was set to leave Feyenoord and his personal manager Guido Albers contacted Swansea's Dutch director John van Zweden to enquire whether his client was a suitable candidate for the job.

Monk labelled Koeman's public interest in the job at the time as "disrespectful" and in the event he became full-time Swansea manager in May, while Koeman was later appointed Mauricio Pochettino's successor at Southampton.

But speaking ahead of the meeting between the third and fourth-placed sides in the Barclays Premier League, Monk said about Koeman: "It is water under the bridge.

"It did not mean anything to me, it was his agent making all the claims.

"You just get on with it. People choose different ways to do things.

"I met him (Koeman) at the managers' meeting before the season and said a quick 'hello' and that was it.

"It is another opponent, we respect him but we will concentrate on Swansea and getting a result."

Swansea lie third in the Premier League but welcome Southampton on the back of their first defeat of the season, 4-2 away to leaders Chelsea last weekend.

Southampton have climbed into fourth spot after back-to-back wins over West Ham and Newcastle, scoring seven goals in the process and silencing some of the doubters after selling Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Calum Chambers, Dejan Lovren in the summer and losing Pochettino to Tottenham.

"I was surprised early on in the summer, but once I saw the players they were signing I didn't really fear (for them) much," said Monk, who spent eight years as a Southampton player.

"I knew they were quality players and when they brought them in I thought, if anything, they have added quality near enough at the same level as they were last year.

"I think they are very strong and they will be looking to come here and put on a really good performance, but we have to be confident in ourselves and make sure we keep our home run going."

Swansea have scored eight goals in four league matches but Wilfried Bony, who managed 25 in all competitions last season and was linked with Liverpool and Tottenham during the summer, has yet to find the target.

Monk believes Swansea have adopted a more attacking approach this season.

"We have trained for it," Monk said.

"You can't just say to players, 'I want you to score more goals and if you run there you will score'.

"But the way we are working and the scenarios we are trying to achieve, the players have probably never trained as much in those situations in my time here.

"Wilf hasn't got a goal yet but I believe if he keeps getting chances he will score.

"He could have had a couple of goals already this year, but the team has been contributing more which is important to relieve the pressure on him."

Argentina defender Federico Fernandez stands by to make his first Barclays Premier League start for Swansea following his £8million move from Napoli last month.

Fernandez came on at half-time in the 4-2 defeat at Chelsea last weekend after Jordi Amat damaged knee ligaments and should slot into central defence alongside skipper Ashley Williams.


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