Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has backed his side after their Premier League title hopes were dented with a 3-3 draw against Southampton on Friday evening.
Some calamitous defending gifted Southampton two goals inside the opening 15 minutes, but Gabriel Martinelli responded soon after and it appeared to be just a matter of time before an equaliser and perhaps an eventual winner.
The Saints, however, held firm and even headed a third through Duje Caleta-Car midway through the second half. While Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka both struck at the death to rescue a point, the result still comes as an enormous blow to Arsenal’s hopes of winning the Premier League title.
Despite the disappointment, Arteta insisted the reaction from his players to falling behind has only made him more proud of their development.
“Obviously unhappy with the result,” he told Sky Sports. “We made it very difficult again for ourselves but mistakes are part of football but the way we reacted… I love my players more than ever.
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“It is incredible, we were on the way back, we conceded again with a sloppy goal but in the end we should have won the game. We created enough chances and opportunities but it didn’t happen and we are disappointed.
“You can’t concede three goals in this league, if you concede three like we did in a sloppy way it is very difficult to win matches.
“This young team reacts in a way that is incredible, when it is against the odds but the chances they created and the spirit they had it was a joy to watch. The message is clear that I love them.
“We are down and they are more willing than anybody to win it. You can see that spirit and fight in the dressing room but it is clear we have to do defensively things better.”
The pressure is on for Arsenal, who travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City on Wednesday in a fixture which appears to be do-or-die for their title hopes.
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