Armstrong relishing Aribo connection


Stuart Armstrong is enjoying putting former rivalries to one side after combining with Joe Aribo to score on Southampton’s return to St Mary’s, helping the latter to an assist on his home debut.

Saints produced a stirring second-half display to recover from a goal down and record their first victory of pre-season with a 3-1 success over Champions League qualifiers AS Monaco, as Adam Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse were also on target.

Former Celtic man Stuart Armstrong joked he didn’t want to speak to Aribo, who arrived from Rangers, but the pair linked up in style to turn the game on its head just three minutes after the goalscorer’s arrival from the bench.

“We don’t talk about that!” he said of the Old Firm connections. “I didn’t want to speak to him as soon as he came in – I thought I’d let him lie for a week.

“You can see in training the quality he has – he’s very powerful, strong, technical, keeps the ball tight and he’s very composed with his movement and his passing, so he’s a very good addition, experienced, and we’re very happy to have him.”

“Always happy with a goal, but I think it was more in the pass from Joe – I wasn’t expecting him to play it across like he did, but it was very nice and I’m very happy that he gave me a nice quick shot on the turn.”

On the overall performance, Armstrong felt it was a significant step forward in Saints’ preparations for the Premier League opener at Tottenham next weekend.

“Much better,” he added. “Our games, not to say they’ve been bad in recent times, but we’re still finding our rhythm and the pitch at the weekend wasn’t the best, so it was hard to tell the movement and the passing tempos, but tonight there were no excuses.

“Even trailing at half time, we showed some good signs, defensively looked solid, and I think we got better as the game went on, so it’s very promising moving on to next week now.

“The more games you play in pre-season it changes from getting that fitness, getting the rhythm back, to then having the quality within the game also. I think it’s starting to turn in that regard, so I think we can be happy with what we showed tonight.

“I think we needed a good performance, we needed to score some more goals and get that feeling back, so a strong performance, one we can be proud of, something to build on.”