Adam Lallana has labelled Saints’ display in their 2-2 draw with Arsenal as their best performance of the season so far.
The First Team captain felt Southampton’s first-half showing could have merited more than just a point in the end but drew confidence in abundance ahead of the visit to Fulham next weekend.
Lallana was reassured by how well the side coped with several injuries against the league leaders and looked ahead to the remainder of the season with a higher table position and The FA Cup to play for.
The midfielder told broadcasters: “We’re disappointed not to get the three points in the end – I think our overall performance thoroughly deserved [them], especially in the first half when we created a lot of chances.
“We started the game very fast. We dominated possession on the whole, and chances.
“We were bitterly disappointed because we spoke at half-time about starting the second half rightly and staying high. As it happens, they got two goals but luckily we got back in it straight away and the fans got behind us again. We were unlucky not to go on and get that winner.
“As I said, I thought we played very well in the first half. We’ve got to keep going because when you’re on top against these good teams you’ve got to punish them and ten minutes after half-time, we were two-one down. That’s the Premier League and that’s why Arsenal are competing for the Premier League title this year.
“It was good to get that goal and I thought we were the only team that looked like scoring. [Mesut] Özil hit the ball with their only other half-chance. On the whole, we’re disappointed we didn’t get the three points.
“With the injuries we’ve got, the lads put on a tremendous performance. We should take a lot of confidence out of that going into Saturday’s game at Craven Cottage.
“We’ll go to Fulham and hopefully get a win to start a nice little run and look to catch Newcastle, and then keep looking upwards. We want to finish as high in the league as possible. We’re still in The FA Cup, so there’s a lot to gain from the rest of the season.”
Lallana also reserved time to lavish praise on Sam Gallagher – who made his first league start – and Jay Rodriguez.
He felt that Gallagher shone on a daunting occasion up against a tough Arsenal side when making the starting XI for the first time, while he also paid tribute to Rodriguez’s style of play and how beneficial he is to the entire team.
The 25-year-old assessed: “I thought the young lad, Sam Gallagher, was terrific. He was unlucky to get a goal, if not two.
“To be only 18 years of age and give [Laurent] Koscielny and [Per] Mertesacker a hard game like that today, he should be very proud of himself. I’m sure he’s going to have a huge future ahead of him, hopefully at Southampton.
“Jay Rodriguez is a fantastic player. The way he runs with the ball and holds people off, he’s been doing it all season. He’s not just pitched in with goals, he’s getting assists – that shows why he got his England call-up.
“He’s been doing so well for us. It’s nice when you can compliment each other in different ways. I feel our relationship on and off the field is blossoming and it’s only going to help the team.”
After some off-field issues surrounding the Club over the last fortnight, Lallana is fully focusing on what lies ahead on the field.
He maintains that nothing affects the players and that has been epitomised by recent displays.
Lallana concluded: “We just do our talking with the football and let everyone else speculate about whatever, really. We just want to concentrate on playing well and improving under our manager and giving teams like Arsenal a good game.
“We got the first goal through a great header from José [Fonte]. I thought we deserved the second but one goal in this league is never enough.
“We were pleased anyway as we went one-nil up against the league leaders. We were delighted for him (Fonte).
“It’s been a busy couple of weeks off the field. For anyone outside or the fans questioning if it will affect us, you only have to look at our last three performances.
“We were away at Sunderland where we absolutely dominated. We got a good win against Yeovil [Town] and we put in probably our best performance of the season against the league leaders.”