MANAGER Ralph Hasenhuttl lifted the lid on how Saints look to shut out teams and keep up their impressive run of clean sheets.

The St Mary’s outfit have now gone 344 match minutes without conceding a goal – a run which includes clean sheets against the likes of Fulham, West Ham and Liverpool.

Raheem Sterling was the most recent scorer against Hasenhuttl’s men, netting in a 1-0 victory for Manchester City last month.

No side have kept more clean sheets in the division this season than Saints, who have eight alongside Aston Villa.

Asked how important his team’s defensive record was to kicking on in 2021, the Austrian boss said: “Absolutely. I was always very, very angry about our not consistent defending because we are definitely one of the better organised teams in this league and still concede so many goals.

“As strange as it sounds, the way we try to play with the ball now is our fundament of not conceding so many goals, because we have more possession.

“The opponent has to run more to get the ball back. That also kills you and makes you a little bit more tired, so you are not so clinical when you have a chance. That makes it easier to defend for us.

“The whole package is a more successful one.”

Only Villa, Tottenham and Manchester City have conceded fewer goals than Saints in the top-flight this campaign.

Hasenhuttl’s men make the trip to Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday (8pm).