Southampton boss Claude Puel has warned his side not to get distracted by trying to stop West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet when they head to the London Stadium on Sunday.
The French superstar scored the fifth free kick of his West Ham career against Accrington Stanley on Wednesday night in the EFL Cup.
Yet Puel has urged his players to focus on their own performance levels if they are to record their fourth consecutive victory in all competitions.
“It (a free-kick from Payet) would be a good opportunity for them, and of course defending is important, but we must also concentrate on all the many good things we do on the pitch,” the Southampton manager said at a press conference.
“He (Payet) is a very good player on the free-kicks, but our players also have many qualities and it will be difficult for West Ham to defend these players.”
The 29-year-old has a better set-piece conversation ratio than superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo since last season, with Accrington boss John Coleman admitting giving away a free kick was like conceding a penalty where Payet was concerned.
But Saints’ boss Puel is adamant his players will deliver a strong performance against the Hammers, regardless of who starts for them.
“It is important to keep in our minds all of the good things we can make on the pitch and not just to stay in close (attention) with the opponent, (but) to give a good answer against all of the (West Ham) team, with a good concentration.”