By 90Min
April 09, 2018

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has claimed that Southampton's relegation struggles may stem from last season when the Saints decided to sack Claude Puel amidst pressure from the St Mary's faithful. 

Puel led Southampton to an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League in his first and only season with the Saints (2016/17). The club also reached the EFL Cup final - their first major final since 2003 - which they lost to Manchester United 3-2. 

Puel's successor, Mauricio Pellegrino, was sacked in March this year with the Saints having won just one of their last 17 league matches. Mark Hughes then took over but, after Sunday's 3-2 defeat away to Arsenal, Southampton have won just one of their last 19 league games and are now three points adrift of 17th-placed Crystal Palace. 

Speaking after Arsenal's victory on Sunday, Wenger, who himself is no stranger to fan criticism, suggested that Puel's sacking may have been the catalyst to Southampton's struggles this season.

“I know that very well. It’s part of the modern game [fan pressure]," said Wenger, as quoted by the Mirror

“That is why a club should always continue doing what it believes is right. Claude had done well there. I rated Pellegrino as well but it’s very difficult for me to know what happened.

“That is why a club should always continue doing what it believes is right. Claude had done well there. I rated Pellegrino as well but it’s very difficult for me to know what happened.

“They were in League One not so long ago and when you think back to the quality of the players they had, it is quite impressive – they had Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Victor Wanyama, Van Dijk, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott…" 

Southampton have a massive match against Chelsea at home next weekend, with each game becoming increasingly vital as the Saints fight to stay in the Premier League. 

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