(Reuters) - Southampton manager Claude Puel has warned his players against complacency, saying the congested Premier League table meant that the south coast club could still find itself dragged into a relegation battle.
The teams sitting ninth to 18th in the 20-team league are separated by just 10 points with 13th-placed Southampton seven points above the relegation zone, albeit with two games in hand.
"It's important to stay careful about this," Puel told British media.
"It's a strong league and difficult to keep a good position on the table and when we see the table, the gap between six, seven, eight teams is very short with the number of points.
"This is why it's important to stay careful about this."
Puel also urged his players to maintain their focus, starting with Wednesday's home match against a resurgent Crystal Palace, who have won their last four league games.
"I think it is important to stay with a good concentration," Puel said. "We have a seven-point advantage and its important to keep improving.
"All of my players are ready to make a good game against this team and of course we aware of what is behind us, but after we can see forward. For the moment its important we take points because one win or one lost can make a difference in the table."
Southampton have two wins in their last five league games and lost 3-0 to Palace in the reverse fixture in December.
(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru)