LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Southampton were left hoping for a sustained bounce to take them clear of relegation worries after ending both their long run without a win and Arsenal’s even longer period of unbroken success on Sunday.
The surprise 3-2 home victory was the Saints’ first win since September 1 and their visitors’ first defeat since mid-August.
Southampton’s new manager Ralph Hasenhuettl, who replaced the sacked Mark Hughes 11 days ago, felt he had not had sufficient time in two training sessions to instil the style he wanted before the 1-0 defeat at Cardiff City last weekend.
Given a full week’s coaching, however, he was able to put across his ideas about high-pressing, high-energy football and Saints’ supporters were delighted with the result.
“It’s amazing what the team can do in a week,” the Austrian said after Charlie Austin’s late winning goal.
“It was very intensive, we had time to work on the basics and built the fundamentals for our game.
“I’m very proud of how focused and uncompromising they were, and when they had the chances, how merciless they were.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere and a special feeling here to win the match.”
Hasenhuettl might have felt he contributed to that atmosphere by offering vouchers for a free beer before the game to every season-ticket holder.
“The gaffer’s brought in new ideas and it’s not just changed things in the changing room but around the whole club,” Austin said.
“A new manager comes in. The lads get a rocket and start expressing themselves.
“It was disappointing last week, so coming here today, Danny Ings is back and got two great goals. And it’s massive because we’ve got games coming up which we could win.”
After achieving a first home win since last April, positve results at Huddersfield Town and at home to West Ham United will encourage Hasenhuettl’s players further before more demanding fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea.
Arsenal, meanwhile, must recover quickly from a setback that left them three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
They face greatest local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a League Cup quarter-final on Wednesday as the crowded period of so-called holiday fixtures looms.
“We could have lost at any time and it was today,” said manager Unai Emery.
“Southampton deserved the result because they pushed and played with big ambition.
“Sometimes, we could win that game but today we lost it.
“We need to do some analysis on how we can improve and do better.” (Writing by Steve Tongue Editing by Ian Chadband)