Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has told his players to be at their best against Southampton if they are to win their first league game away from home this season on Sunday.
The reigning champions head to St Mary’s without a victory on the road in the league all season as they prepare for the first of three away trips in ten days, and admits it will be tough for his side at St Mary’s if the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the campaign is anything to go by.
The Foxes have notched wins in both the Champions League and the Emirates FA Cup away from the King Power Stadium, and Ranieri says his side must “change our mood” against Claude Puel’s men who held Leicester to a goalless draw back in October.
“It’s a good team,” Ranieri said of Southampton.
“They keep possession of the ball very well, they move the ball quickly. I remember the first game here, they deserved to win, we drew, but they deserved to win.
“We must be very, very concentrated and very aggressive.
“Last season we won so many matches away and this season not, but we are the same, and sooner or later we’ll start to win away.”
Having trialled a 3-5-2 formation in last weekend’s home defeat to Chelsea, Ranieri is likely to revert to either a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 system at St Mary’s, and the manager says it’s important that his squad keeps an open mind on adapting to different styles.
“It’s not important the system, but the mentality is important,” he explained. “The system can help you. I’m not closed with the 4-2-3-1 like we are used to playing or the three at the back. It’s important to understand the best players I can choose to put the opponent under pressure.”
Italian Ranieri has also suggested that his side is also targeting a minimum tally of 40 points in the Premier League by the end of the campaign. That total is traditionally thought of as a benchmark for survival in the division, and Ranieri says the champions can’t change that focus.
“Our goal from the beginning was 40 points,” he said. “People were laughing but I was so concentrated on these 40 points. Our goal is 40 points.
“Now there are two away matches and we want to do the best for us to achieve these 40 points as soon as possible.”