Mikel Arteta has revealed what he told his players after Arsenal’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Southampton.
The Premier League leaders scored two late goals to rescue a point against Southampton but still dropped more points in the title race as they look to hold off Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Arsenal’s title challenge was crumbling when Southampton raced into a 2-0 lead after just 14 minutes and then went 3-1 up in the second half.
But late goals from Odegaard and Bukayo Saka have kept Arsenal’s title hopes alive, though they will be frustrated to drop points against a team sitting bottom of the Premier League.
Asked what he told his players in the dressing room, Arteta said: ‘That I love them. Because I know how difficult it was today for them, especially when you make a big mistake like that early on.
‘It’s very tough psychologically but the way we played, the courage we showed under that pressure…
‘Obviously we’re unhappy with the result, 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 result leaves Arsenal five points above Man City ahead of their trip to the Etihad on Wednesday. City still have two games in hand and a superior goal difference.
On the possible title decider, Arteta added: ‘I cannot wait, these are the games you want to play. When everything is at stake you have to go there to win. The game will be prepared to that, that is for sure.
‘It is the beauty of this sport, you want to be in these positions. We will have an incredible trip to Manchester and we will prepare really well.’