Mark Hughes backing Southampton to unleash shackles as they bid to earn first Premier League win against Brighton on Sunday
- Mark Hughes says his Southampton team are finally playing with more freedom
- Southampton are looking for their first win of the season against Brighton
- They tasted success at St Mary’s just four times during the 2017-18 campaign
- Hughes feels as though the new 4-4-2 formation suits his players better
Mark Hughes is backing Southampton to unleash the shackles against Brighton as they seek a first home win of the season.
The Saints won just four times at home last season, but Hughes says his side are a different proposal this time out.
‘Certainly it seemed when I first came into the building that there was a bit of a straitjacket in terms of apprehension before home games. I think that’s gone,’ Hughes said.
Mark Hughes (pictured) says his Southampton team are finally playing with more freedom
Hughes’ Southampton are looking for their first win of the season against Brighton on Sunday
‘Performances – not necessarily the results we would have wanted – have been decent when the crowd was actually with us and could see what we were trying to do, when we were trying to be more positive.
‘That will continue because that’s the way I want us to play. Long-term that will bring us the results at home that you need to sustain a good Premier League season.
‘Our confidence is building. We just need to have the ability and capacity to maintain it.’
Following victory at Crystal Palace before the international break, Hughes is desperate to seal-back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since April 2017.
‘These are the opportunities you have to take. When you have won an away game and have a home fixture which you expect to win, with no disrespect to Brighton who are a good team, you go into with intentions of winning. We can’t let these opportunities pass us by.’
Brighton striker Glenn Murray (pictured) is in good form heading into Sunday’s match
Southampton face a Brighton side featuring the in-form Glenn Murray. The 34-year old has netted three goals in his last four Premier League appearances – and scored in both 1-1 draws between the sides last season.
And after naming an unchanged side in his last two matches, Hughes feels he has found a formation which suits his players.
‘When I was playing everyone used to play 4-4-2 and it was a little bit more rigid. You didn’t get centre-backs getting on the ball, full backs high so it is a lot more fluid than it was in the past when it was two banks of four and two strikers who were battering rams who you used if you wanted to get it forward it as quickly as possible.
‘There is a little bit more thought and process behind what you do within a 4-4-2 now.’