Ralph Hasenhuttl is determined to rack up three straight league wins for the first time as Southampton manager when facing Everton and former Bundesliga rival Carlo Ancelotti on Thursday.
Any relegation fears have disappeared since football resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Saints collecting nine points from a possible 12 behind closed doors.
Southampton have secured back-to-back wins against Watford and Manchester City, meaning they travel to Goodison Park with the chance to extend their winning run to a third match.
Hasenhuttl’s men have already won a club record eight of their 16 away Premier League games and the Austrian is gunning for even more.
“We have five more games to play and we have massive targets to focus on,” he said.
“The first is since I’ve been here we have never won three games in a row, so this is a first target we absolutely want to get with the game against Everton now.
“Big, big chance to make the third win and I think we go there with a lot of self-confidence in an away game. We know away we showed some good games this season.
“And then also we are now in touch with all the clubs in front of us and to climb one or two positions in the table would be fantastic for us, not being part of this relegation zone, this final third.
“Maybe the middle third would be a very, very good step forwards in our development, when you know where we are coming from.
“I think the last 21 games we took 35 points, so it was the fifth most in the leagues. This shows our current form.
“We have definitely after the restart shown some good games and we want to keep on doing.”
The trip to Goodison Park pits Hasenhuttl against the man that denied him a remarkable Bundesliga triumph with RB Leipzig in 2016/17.
Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich eventually cruised to the Bundesliga crown, but there were moments in the season when the promoted Red Bulls threatened an almighty shock.
“He’s a fantastic guy,” Hasenhuttl said of Ancelotti.
“He’s so long in this business and won so many titles, he’s one of the biggest managers at the moment around in football.
“It was always a joy for me, I enjoyed it very much to battle with him and it’ll sure be an interesting game and an interesting meeting.”
Moussa Djenepo will miss the trip to Merseyside with a calf complaint, joining Jannik Vestergaard, Sofiane Boufal and Yan Valery on the sidelines.
Reported Everton target Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is available after missing the last two matches with a knock but may have to make do with a place on the bench.
“We have done a good job with Oriol (Romeu) and Prowsey [James Ward-Prowse] in this role,” Hasenhuttl added.
“But the fixtures are quite tough and we do not have a lot of time to rest.
“I know that Oriol and Prowsey are both fit, and they can play three games in a week, but it is good to have Pierre back and another alternative, maybe he could play another position.
“It will be important for him to be fit again and to help us, wherever I decide, but I am happy to have him back.”