Jason Puncheon, Southampton's matchwinner against Reading, says the Saints have shed the nerves that were threatening to send them straight back down to the Championship.
Nigel Adkins's side initially found their return to the Premier League after a seven-year absence difficult, with just one win in 11 matches. In that period they shipped a league-high 29 goals, but a new-found defensive resolve has brought about a dramatic change in fortunes which has lifted them to 15th place in the table after Saturday's 1-0 victory.
Southampton have only conceded four goals in their past six matches and Puncheon said: "As a team coming into the Premier League, I think we were a bit nervous, a bit shaky. We didn't find our feet or our rhythm and now we have found that and that is showing as a team.
"We haven't got a bad defence. A few of the boys playing in that back four played in the team last season and how many clean sheets were there last season? Now we are gelling and that is showing."
Winger Puncheon has flourished this season and scored the decisive strike on Saturday in a match in which he also saw a first-half header harshly chalked off.
"Me and Clyney [right-back Nathaniel Clyne] are working up a good relationship. We're gelling as the games go on," he said.
Puncheon's form has even led to some optimistic observers suggesting him as a potential option for Roy Hodgson's England side. "It is nice to get mentioned but you don't let those things get in your head," he said.
- More about:
- Southampton Fc