Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was ‘very proud’ of his side after they battled back to earn a point against league leaders Arsenal.
Granit Xhaka fired the Gunners into the lead after just 11 minutes and were in control heading into half time.
But Southampton managed to stay in the game, and drew level after the hour mark through Stuart Armstrong to make five points from three games in the last week.
‘The belief was there’
“I’m very proud of the lads for what they’ve done today,” Hasenhuttl told the media after the 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s.
“Even after the first goal where we conceded early, we came back in the second half and did a really good job.
“The belief was there, the attitude was fantastic today. We made a lot of changes because of injured players, but we came out of it quite strong.
“I must say congratulations to the guys, they delivered what we wanted from them. This was the key to staying in the game, staying alive.”
‘An important statement’
Five points from three games in the last seven days is a stark contrast to the previous four games, and Hasenhuttl labelled the point against the Premier League pacesetters as ‘an important statement.’
“I am very proud because I saw a team fighting for this club, for these games and for the results,” the Austrian added.
“We have taken five points and are only 15th in the table so you know how tough the league is. But I am not scared because I see what we can do and today was an important statement for me, against the team at the top of the table.
“Coming back and keeping going, staying brace, being on the front foot and if you need to press them doing it. You can see the identity we have at the club and this is what everyone wants to see.”
Hasenhuttl was forced into making three changes to the team that started the crucial win at Bournemouth in midweek, including leaving Che Adams on the bench.
“He has a little bit of hamstring problems and was not fully fit the last days and we are not taking any risks because we don’t want to lose him,” the Austrian explained.
The Scottish striker came off the bench for the last twenty minutes, whilst Kyle Walker-Peters looks to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring at the Vitality Stadium in midweek.
Armel Bella-Kotchap remained absent, with a decision if he will get surgery on his dislocated shoulder yet to be made whilst Romeo Lavia is back in training, but lacks fitness to be included in the matchday squad.
Results at the right time
Multiple media reports suggested Hasenhuttl’s time at the Saints could be nearing an end heading into the game against West Ham United last weekend.
But having ended a four-match losing streak with a draw against the Hammers, Saints won at Bournemouth prior to a gutsy performance to earn a point against Arsenal.
Asked how much easier the recent results have made his job, Hasenhuttl said: “Not really easier, because my job is never easy.
“I also never had the feeling that we don’t believe in what we are doing here. I think, for me, the only response I really want to see is the response from the players.
“For me, when I see them doing what we ask them to do on the pitch, you know that this relationship is there. This is the only thing interesting me.
“The view from outside on the work from managers is a strange one sometimes. I think they don’t really know what it is about and what are the key facts that you are really concentrating on.
“This is definitely not about thinking about being sacked or the last game or whatever. Never one time have I thought about my future.”