Next Match:

Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League


Roberto Martinez says he has "huge admiration" for the way in which Mauricio Pochettino has stamped his mark on Southampton's style.

Everton’s trip to St Mary's last January – a goalless draw - was Pochettino's first game in charge following the surprise sacking of Nigel Adkins.

At the time, the newly-promoted Saints were 15th in the Barclays Premier League table but they go into Saturday's clash deservedly among the top-eight having resided there for much of the current campaign.

Thirteen league wins have included a 4-1 defeat of Hull City, a 4-0 rout of Newcastle United and a narrow 1-0 victory at leaders Liverpool.

And while the Saints are without a win in their last three games, Martinez is impressed by the job carried out by former Espanyol chief Pochettino.

He said: “I have huge admiration, huge. Mauricio came in at a difficult time where Southampton had had a very successful period of two promotions with the previous management team, but he embraced the good work that Nigel did and transformed the team.

“It’s a team that plays with a real bravery, they condense the spaces, they press very dynamic and they have got really good quality in the young players that have been given strong roles.

“It’s been very impressive how they always get good performances against the top sides, especially at home. They always get good results against the top teams.

“I think that shows you that the team plays with incredible swagger, with incredible intelligence in the way that they are set up tactically and they make it very difficult.”

Southampton's recent blip has coincided with the loss of top scorer Jay Rodriguez to a serious knee injury, which has ruled the England striker out of this summer's World Cup.

Martinez, however, feels the Saints still boast plenty of threat and has urged his players not to take anything for granted as they look to leapfrog Arsenal into fourth in the league.

Arsenal don't face Newcastle United until Monday evening, meaning the Blues can move two points ahead with a victory.

But Martinez warned: “I would say have dipped in terms of their results, but I don't think they've dipped in form.

“Losing Rodriguez seems to have taken a little bit away, a real penetrating aspect of their play. But the game against Aston Villa, they should have been 3-0 up at half-time. If you analyse the performances, I don't think they've dropped their standards at all.

"Everybody speaks about Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana because of their goalscoring threat. But you have to also look everywhere else on the pitch, from Luke Shaw to the two centre-halves, Schneiderlin - I think they've got very strong players all over the pitch.

“We saw at Goodison in December , they gave us a very interesting game from a technical point of view and we know we're going to be tested to the maximum.

“When they play at home, they're a team who are very difficult to play against and we will need to be at our very best to get a positive result."

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