Ralph Hasenhüttl's Southampton are primed and ready to attack an intense period of games following a two-and-a-half-week break from fixtures, the manager has confirmed, with a trip to Wolves kick-starting a run of eight matches between now and the new year.
Saints are currently on a six-game unbeaten stretch, dating back to September, which has not only inspired confidence in the squad, but allowed the team to play with more freedom and less pressure, prompting a significant rise up the Premier League table.
The proof is certainly reflected in recent performances, not least in the previous three outings, where Saints have registered a trio of consecutive wins for the first time since Hasenhüttl's arrival in December 2018.
ralph hasenhüttlOur focus is on development. this is the biggest difference from last season.
Reflecting on the upturn in fortunes, the manager said: "We have the feeling that, no matter where we go, we have a chance to win. This is good. It gives you self-confidence without losing your concentration and focus.
"We've made a good turnaround after the first two games. It's important to be in a different part of the table, not because the table is important in the moment, but because it takes away the pressure and allows us to focus on development more than surviving. This is the biggest difference from last season.
"We know we can handle this period. We have a squad that is physically strong, and last season we had our best Christmas period ever. We're looking forward to this time because we have shown we can play three games a week."
Talking about the impact of the international break and the proposition of facing Wolves on Monday evening, he added: "We've actually had more players with us over the break, because of injuries and some didn't go away immediately.
"The good thing is we play on Monday, so we've had over two weeks to train. It helps us, but it also helps the opponent. They [Wolves] have a lot of internationals.
"It's better for both. I think the quality of the game should be a better one and hopefully we can also bring the right automatism on the pitch because we need to.
"In some moments we've shown good things against them in the past. Hopefully we are a little further in our development now. We need to go there and show our best performance."