Socceroo Mat Ryan admits Brighton & Hove Albion were in a slump when the season was stopped in March, but is confident that the period of struggle is over and the club is ready to secure its Premier League status.
The Seagulls are in a battle to avoid the drop and sit in 15th place on the table, just two points above the relegation zone.
Before the Coronavirus caused the season to be postponed, Brighton had gone nine league games without a victory, with their last triumph coming on December 28 against Bournemouth.
But Ryan believes the three-month break from football has helped him and his teammates, who face Arsenal this weekend and are committed to pushing themselves up the ladder and staying up.
“The break has done us a world of good in terms of being able to rest and refresh both physically and mentally,” the Socceroo said.
“We were in a form slump form-wise and results-wise, but that momentum has come to an end. We’ve hit the reset button.
“There’s a different ambience in the group, at training and at friendly matches. We’re working hard and that will result in some positive results moving forward and doing want needs to be done in order to maintain our Premier League position for next season.”
Ryan and the Seagulls taken on Arsenal at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon (midnight AEST).
The Gunners were beaten 3-0 by Manchester City on Wednesday and the goalkeeper believes it is not necessarily an advantage for the London club in that they have already played a game.
“You could argue that they got an injury and a suspension that could hinder them, which may cause people to think it was not an advantage that they played that match,” he said.
“I am confident we have all that we need to go out and get a result. We have already proven this season against them having got a result at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the year.
“In the past we had a win against them at home – we can take confidence from that. [But] they have a number of quality individuals in that team with a lot of flair. We have to be on our toes.
“We don’t want to play an open style of game because those sorts of players, with their skill and pace, can really hurt you. We need to stick to our game plan, pressing them in the right areas and putting them under pressure.
“It has all been going well in preparation until now and come Saturday we will look to showcase it to everyone.”
Ryan is looking forward to dusting off the cobwebs and finally playing again, and feels his team may be able to take advantage of competing behind closed doors.
“I am really excited to get back underway,” the 28-year-old said.
“It’s that old cliché that when things are taken away from you then you realise how much you miss them. Football and playing Premier League football has definitely been an example of that.
“The times call for adaption and being able to improvise. It’s different circumstances with no crowd, trying to distance ourselves on the pitch and not get involved with celebrations, all of the things that will come with it – training and preparation.
“They’re all obstacles but we’ve got no alternative but to roll our sleeves up and confront them and whoever does that will be successful. There has been no complaining from the boys. We’re taking it as it is.
“At the end of the day the art of football hasn’t changed too much in terms of playing the game. We need to go out there and take advantage of the fact that there is no crowd, we may be able to pass messages easier without external noise.
“As much as we’d prefer the atmosphere with supporters…. We’ll realise how much we take for granted having an atmosphere during the matches when we have to start without the crowd.
“It’s all an adaption and I’m sure we will confront anything that we are faced with.”