After reporting back with no fitness concerns from his ten days away with the Croatian national team, Lovren revealed that he was all set for last Saturday’s game until he was struck down by a virus on the way up to the match.
He reported back to training at the start of the week, and the centre back declared he is now ready to return in Sunday’s third-versus-fifth clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“I’m feeling really good now,” Lovren told Saints Player
. “It was a tough three days after the [Arsenal] game. It was really difficult for me, but now I’m in good shape so I will be ready for the Sunday game.
“I was with the national team for ten days and I was thinking all the time about Arsenal and then on the last day I was sick, but it was better to not play so I can be ready for the next game.”
Having subsequently watched last Saturday’s game back, the defender believes Saints showed their true character over the course of the 90 minutes, and he feels there is plenty of confidence in the team to bounce back again quickly.
“I don’t think it was [a setback],” Lovren stated. “We are very well in the head, we have a confidence, and we are fifth in the Premier League, too. It’s no shame to lose to the best team for now in the Premier League.
“Okay, the mistakes were our mistakes, but after that I thought we played a great game. If we reduce the mistakes then we will do a great season.
“A lot of people didn’t believe in us,” he added. “But, it’s difficult to play against Arsenal because they really are such a good team, and they have top players. I think after this game we don’t have to put our heads in the grass because we have our confidence, and we will look for the three points on Sunday.”
Should he be selected, Lovren will hope to slot back into a familiar backline that has helped the team to the best defensive record in the Premier League, but the Croat does not put that feat down to individuals as he was quick to praise those around him for their efforts so far this season.
“I’m very proud but it’s not just me,” he highlighted.
“I’ve said a million times it’s the whole team from the first defender and the first defender is Rickie [Lambert], so we are doing an amazing job, and I think we have done amazing to keep clean sheets in a couple of games to have respect from the other teams.”
Saints face another top-four challenge in the Barclays Premier League this weekend, as they take on Chelsea who have an irrepressible home record in the league under José Mourinho. The Blues were beaten in Basel during midweek, but Lovren is reading nothing into that surprise defeat ahead of this game.
“I think that means nothing because Chelsea is a big club and they have really top players, but I think we are not scared, and we also have top players,” he reasoned.
“We don’t have fear – we have a respect for everybody.
“We were strong against Liverpool and at Man United we played a good game to take a point so we have the quality and we will go to London to take the three points.”