James Ward-Prowse assured that Saints will not treat Saturday’s opponents lightly, as Ronald Koeman’s team bid for a double over the Black Cats this season.
Back in October, Saints memorably beat the Wearsiders 8-0 at St Mary’s, and with the hosts having recently dropped into the relegation zone, there will be extra focus on the performance and result of Dick Advocaat’s new side.
Ward-Prowse hopes the visitors will take confidence from last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham to put in another display worthy of a positive result at the Stadium of Light.
“Like Tottenham we’ll give them a lot of respect,” Ward-Prowse told BBC Solent. “We can’t just turn up and expect to win. They’re fighting for their lives and it’s going to be a very tough match and a battle, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re on top of our game.
“We’ve still got four games to go and they’re very big for us and we know that if we can play like we did on Saturday then we can beat anyone.”
Aside from their demolition of Sunderland earlier in the season, Saints haven’t found Wearside a happy hunting ground in recent times, with Ward-Prowse involved in three trips there last season which saw Southampton exit two cups and get clawed back for a draw in the league.
“It feels like home going up there as we’ve been there a few times now,” the midfielder joked, “but we know that it’s going to be a tough game, not only as a football match but as a battle. “We’ll need to fight for the three points, and we’re confident that we can get them.”
It’s the first of three away games that form part of the last four matches to be played this season, and Ward-Prowse insists that won’t be a hindrance to the team’s chances of picking up points in the remaining fixtures.
No, not at all,” he stated. “Maybe early on in the Premier League we may be felt that way, but we’re very confident now and we’re well established and we’ve shown that a number of times this season we can beat anyone at home or away, so home or away we fancy our chances no matter what.
“We’re just focused on ourselves,” added the youngster on the end to the season. “Last Saturday was a big game and it would have been nice to have won that one, but with four games to go we’re very confident that we can still get ahead in the table.”