May 11, 2017 / 12:06 PM / 7 months ago

Shot-shy Southampton target top-half finish

(Reuters) - Southampton are aiming for a quick turnaround to finish in the top half of the Premier League starting with a trip to relegated Middlesbrough on Saturday, manager Claude Puel said on Thursday.

Britain Football Soccer - Southampton v Arsenal - Premier League - St Mary's Stadium - 10/5/17 Southampton manager Claude Puel Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic

Puel’s Southampton, 10th in the table, extended their winless run to five games with a 2-0 home loss to Arsenal on Wednesday.

“There’s the possibility to finish in the first part of the table and that is very important to us,” Puel told reporters.

”If we can have a good result against Middlesbrough, we can prepare for our last two games at home with good possibilities, good intensity.

“Middlesbrough have been playing just one game a week and for us, the most important thing is to put in place a team with good balance, with players who are physically fit and to give a good answer.”

The 55-year-old Frenchman believes he has laid a solid foundation in his first season at St Mary’s but will need to boost the squad’s attacking options if they are to climb higher in the league.

“We put the basics of our play and our philosophy in place this season and what we want to do,” he said.

“I think the consistency was important but there was no clinical edge. It will be important to validate our good work in training sessions on the pitch (next season).”

Southampton have failed to find the net in their last three league games ahead of the trip to Middlesbrough who have won just once in their last 19 matches.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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