Ralph Hasenhüttl believes the New Year's Day clash with Tottenham Hotspur will provide a good opportunity to measure his team's progress over recent weeks.
Saints have enjoyed a strong festive period, picking up seven points from their last three matches, as they opened up a four-point gap between themselves and the Premier League relegation zone, with attention now turning to the home game against Spurs.
ralph hasenhüttlit's maybe the best opponent we are facing now in the last days.
on tottenham hotspur
Tottenham, now under the management of José Mourinho, are currently sixth in the table, and Hasenhüttl thinks this game could prove something of a yardstick for his players.
"We knew about the importance of these last few games and we took a lot of points, which is good," said the boss, who oversaw a 2-1 win when Saints and Spurs met at St Mary's last term.
"We now have one against Tottenham at home, and another chance at home to get a win.
"It's a difficult opponent. Last season we had a good game against them and we want to show again that we are competitive. I think the team is doing well at the moment.
"It was a big game when we won against them [last season], but it is not really to compare.
"They have a new manager, we play a little bit different and also in a different shape to that time. I think it's a good game for us to show how far we are in our development. It's maybe the best opponent we are facing now in the last days, so it's a really interesting game.
"They are flexible, they have changed the shape in the last two games in the beginning and then they have switched back to the old shape.
"They have a lot of quality. Son is still suspended, but all the other players have also enough quality to hurt you and it's not a coincidence they are one of the top teams in the league, and for us it means we have to have a very good performance, and to show ourselves we can produce this good performance we must start very concentrated and disciplined like we have in the last games."