December 11, 2014

Southampton are hoping the wheels are not starting to come off after their superb start.

Ronald Koeman's side (8-2-5) dropped out of the top four with a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on Monday evening - a game that made it four without a win for the previously high-flying Saints.

The closest challengers to league leaders Chelsea midway through November, Southampton drew 1-1 with Aston Villa before failing to pick up a point in a tough week that saw them play Manchester City, Arsenal and Man United in quick succession.

However, the last two of those defeats came by just a single goal, and the level of performance against United in particular left plenty of hope Southampton's season hasn't come off the rails just yet.

"We're disappointed because we were the better team, we didn't deserve to lose," Koeman said. "I think we played well. I said after the game, we didn't lose against Manchester United, we lost by ourselves. They are down mentally at the moment, I think that's normal.

"We have to think about the changes we make, we have some injured players. The team performance was okay, in our style of playing, much more football than them, but the result was not like that. We played better than them, we had more ball possession, we had more chance, but finally the result is one two and that's why we're very disappointed."

Southampton travel to Turf Moor to face Sean Dyche's Burnley (2-6-7). The Clarets are without a win in three and above only struggling Leicester at the foot of the Premier League table. Goals have been the biggest problem for Burnley this season - they have managed only 10 in 15 games, a joint league low - and Dyche is more than aware his players need to start finding the back of the net.

"It's a hard league to do that in but we've showed good signs," said Dyche. "There are good signs, but good signs don't win you games."

One player who could help in front of goal is Welsh striker Sam Vokes, who is back in training after a lengthy injury absence. The Vokes and Danny Ings strike partnership fired Burnley up from the Championship last season, but the Clarets' manager is not going to rush Vokes' return.

"We'll try to get him more minutes this week," Dyche said. "I doubt he'll be involved against Southampton but we'll see.

"It's important that he's ready. Forget about when I think he's ready, it's important that he's ready. Managers and coaches can make decisions too early, you can leave them too late. I always think the players know when they're ready, I certainly did when I was a player. I wasn't as talented as him but I had a good mentality and I knew when I was right and ready. He'll know and when he's ready he'll let me know."

Matty Taylor (calf) and Nathaniel Chalobah (knock) are both injury doubts for this match, while the visitors will hold a late fitness test for Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and remain without Jack Cork (ankle), Morgan Schneiderlin (groin), James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez (knee).

This will be the first top-flight meeting between the clubs in 40 years. They last met in the third round of last season's FA Cup, with Southampton emerging narrow winners in a 4-3 thriller.

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