LONDON (Reuters) - High-flying Southampton face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday, but the Premier League visit to Arsenal in no way fazes manager Mauricio Pochettino, nor talismanic strikers Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez.
Saints sit a lofty third place in the league after 11 matches played, their 22 points just three fewer than top-of-the-table Arsenal.
But Pochettino believes Saints can dispatch of the league leaders in the same fashion they dismissed Liverpool when they were top of the pile earlier in the season.
“I think it’s going to be similar to the game against Liverpool because when we were playing them they were top of the league,” the Argentine told Southampton’s television service Saints Player on Thursday.
“We always have to believe that we can get something positive out of every single game that we play. We believe that we can play a very good game and we can get a very positive result in this game - we always believe in that,” he added, espousing the belief that has lifted the modest south coast club up the top flight.
The clash comes on the back of an international break during which Saints had a trio of players called up for England’s matches against Chile and Germany - Lambert, Rodriguez and captain Adam Lallana.
Pochettino said the England trio were raring to go again at club level. “I‘m very happy with their performances with the national side,” he said, despite England’s back-to-back defeats.
”I‘m sure it’s going to be a valuable experience for them in both the present and the future in this team and the national side as well perhaps.
“It’s clear that the motivation and the experience that they had playing with the national side is going to help them for us at Southampton too.”
Lambert, who led the line when Saints lost 6-1 at the Gunners last season, said he was looking forward to the clash and to making amends.
“I‘m looking forward to Saturday now because we’re doing well at the minute and hopefully we can take that into the game,” he told Southampton’s website.
“We’re going to go there confident. We know it’s going to be one of the hardest tests to-date because Arsenal are playing well at the minute. It’s going to be tough, but we’re confident that we can go there and get something.”
Rodriguez was confident the team will fare better than last season’s heavy defeat.
“We’re going to take it to Arsenal so it’ll be a great occasion,” he said. “Last year was a nightmare to get beat 6-1 there, but we’ve got a point to prove and we’ll go there looking to do that.”
Editing by Alison Wildey