In-form Ings feeling the love as Saints continue to improve

(Reuters) - Southampton striker Danny Ings said he is enjoying football again as his goals in recent weeks and manager Ralph Hasenhuettl’s tactical changes have Saints looking up the Premier League table rather than down.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Southampton v Crystal Palace - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - December 28, 2019 Southampton's Danny Ings celebrates scoring their first goal with Moussa Djenepo REUTERS/Ian Walton

Ings scored the equaliser against Crystal Palace on Saturday for his eighth goal in as many starts to take his overall tally for the campaign to 14, as Southampton climbed to 15th with 22 points from 20 games.

The 27-year-old, who played only 14 games in three years at Liverpool due to a number of injuries, is on course for his best season since returning to his boyhood club in 2018.

"It's a mixture of things. I'm here and enjoying my football again. I feel absolutely loved by the fans and my team. So all that helps," Ings told the club's website here.

“I thought we’ve been great the last three games... we’ve come a long way and that’s the level we need to be at.”

Southampton were faced with a potentially tough relegation battle after dropping to 19th last month but have four wins and two draws in the last eight games heading into Wednesday’s meeting at home with Tottenham Hotspur.

A major part of their resurgence is down to Hasenhuettl’s decision to switch to a back four, abandoning the 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 formations which failed to click.

“We’re a much more competitive team at the moment,” the Austrian coach told the British media.

Southampton were humiliated 9-0 at home by Leicester City in October and lost their next two games before Hasenhuettl tweaked the system to earn a 2-2 draw at Arsenal.

They have since beaten Watford and Norwich City before losing by narrow margins to Newcastle United and West Ham United, but bounced back to overcome Aston Villa and Chelsea before the draw against Palace.

“We’ve found a way that works and it’s not a coincidence that we’re continuously taking points and we’re able to force problems for every opponent,” Hasenhuettl added.

“The level is now clear, the benchmark is clear. We’ll not lean back. We’ll go forward and try to extend our performances.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge