Rubén Sellés praised his team’s character and performance after Southampton held Premier League leaders Arsenal to a draw for the second time this season.

In the end both sides were left disappointed with a share of the spoils – the hosts for dropping points in the title race on a night when they were strong favourites to win; the visitors having held a 3-1 lead going into the 88th minute at the Emirates Stadium.

Saints led from the very first minute of the game when Carlos Alcaraz opened the scoring inside 28 seconds, before setting up Theo Walcott to make it 2-0 after just 14 minutes.

Arsenal pulled one back before half time, but substitute Duje Ćaleta-Car restored the two-goal cushion midway through the second period with a header from a corner.

“We put a really good performance on the pitch. We wanted to take the three points – we showed it from the very beginning,” Sellés said.

“I’m a little bit disappointed because we didn’t take the three, but very, very happy because of the character and the performance the boys put in today on the pitch.

“We always prepare the games to win the games. That’s how we do it. We knew that to get something here today we needed to be brave and apply pressure high, and that’s what we did in the very beginning.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to keep that tempo and that pressing for 90 minutes, especially against Arsenal, who have a lot of players and a lot of solutions.

“We changed it at half time, we stayed in the game, we managed to score the third one, and the game was a little bit long for us.”

That tactical tweak at the interval saw Lyanco replace the influential Alcaraz, as Saints changed to a five-man defence to ease the burden on their under-pressure full-backs.

“We had situations in the first half when they find their wingers very quick into the space, and we had Romain Perraud and Kyle Walker-Peters with yellow cards,” Sellés explained.

“We needed to make a decision – it wasn’t an easy decision to take Carlos out of the game, but we needed to find five in the back to support the situations on the side two against one, and to have one more header in the defensive crosses.

“We made a small variation after two or three minutes of the second half because they changed the way they build up.

“The technical staff is doing a fantastic job. They support and see things very quick and they come with options we can use, and we can make good performances because of that.”