Mikel Arteta praised his Arsenal players for fighting back to salvage a 3-3 draw against Southampton and says he “loves them more than ever”.
Arsenal were made to settle for a point in Friday’s contest at Emirates Stadium after finding themselves two goals down inside 14 minutes.
Gabriel Martinelli restored hope before half-time after Carlos Alcaraz had scored one and assisted another for Theo Walcott, only for Duje Caleta-Car to head in the Saints’ third.
But Martin Odegaard curled in an impressive goal in the 88th minute and Bukayo Saka had Arsenal on level terms in added time to deny the Premier League’s bottom side.
The Gunners have now dropped points in three successive matches, but Arteta was pleased with the way his side fought back against Southampton.
“We made it very difficult again for ourselves – mistakes are part of football, but the way we reacted, I love my players more than ever,” he told Sky Sports.
“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.”
Arsenal are five points clear of second-place Manchester City, but they have played two games more than their in-form title rivals and travel to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
“It hasn’t changed,” Arteta said. “Obviously the task is even bigger but now we have to do the simple things better and cut out mistakes and then you will win games.
“The [Man City game] is not a final because there are still six games to go. The concern is turning around these moments especially if the players in some moments are in doubt.
“In football you go through moments when you make errors and are not in a good moment but you have to come away from that.
“I have not seen anybody hiding – the opposite. They are willing to do more and more.
“Today is a good example of the level they can show, how capable they are to play against a different type of opponent. The spirit is incredible and we have to try and do it again.”
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