Ronald Koeman believes his Southampton side will have taken a lot of belief from picking up a point against Chelsea on Sunday ahead of their clash with Arsenal.
It was Saints’ first point against one of bigger Premier League sides having gone close against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United previously but to no avail.
Koeman’s side did beat Arsenal in the Capital One Cup earlier this season, and despite a narrow defeat at the Emirates last month in the league, he believes the win earlier in the campaign will also boost their spirit ahead of the game on New Year’s Day.
Speaking to the club’s official YouTube channel, Koeman said: “The most important was the win against Crystal Palace because it was a difficult game, but the feeling about the Chelsea game was so important because it was the first point against a big team.
“We deserved that point, we knew that it would be very difficult but we showed a great spirit in the team and that was important to keep one point. You can play well and create chances but if you don’t have the result it’s difficult to keep confidence.
“Chelsea were the dominant team in the second half but the spirit and the ambition of the players kept everybody together and it was a winning point. Thursday is different.
“In my opinion it will be more balanced. Arsenal play different compared to Chelsea. We know we can beat them, we showed that. Now we have to play at home and maybe that will be a little more comfortable for us.”
Saints currently sit above Arsenal on goal difference in the Premier League at the halfway mark of the season, but Koeman is not highlighting tomorrow’s game as any different to the others Saints will face over the course of the rest of the campaign.
He does however know what sort of test his side can expect, having faced the Gunners twice already this season, winning once and losing the other.
“This is the third time we play against them,” Koeman added. “We know the strengths and weaknesses of Arsenal but they know it exactly the same for us.
“Playing against Arsenal means that you always get space to play because they are an offensive team. They have great individual qualities.
“It’s not a particular battle about the points, we would like to stay up in the table, we are trying and fighting for the best place in the league that we can have. We know Arsenal have had good results in the last few games.
“It looks like the defensive part of the team is a little stronger than it was before and we know it’s difficult because they have great players. But we showed already against the other big ones we can compare against them.
“If we show that belief and we show that spirit, we can win against them.”