MIKEL ARTETA roared the title is still on despite his Arsenal players breaking down on the pitch and some fans “giving up” on the dream.
The Gunners stormed back late on from 3-1 down but the 3-3 home draw with Southampton means the Premier League leaders have picked up just three points from their last three games.
Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey find even a comeback draw hard to stomach
Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes can’t hide the pain after bottom side Southampton held the Prem leaders to a draw at the Emirates
Gunners’ sub Reiss Nelson slumps to the ground in frustration afterwards
But Arteta said the amazing finale shows why he “loves” his players and he “can’t wait” for their Prem humdinger at Manchester City next Wednesday.
Arsenal are now just five points clear of City, who have two games in hand.
And Gunners’ sub Reiss Nelson collapsed to the ground in despair at the final whistle on Friday night, while Gabriel Magalhaes and Martin Odegaard were amongst team-mates on their knees in frustration.
Boss Arteta 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.
“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.
“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.”
And of a potential Etihad epic next week, Arteta told the BBC: “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.”
Star striker Gabriel Jesus was equally defiant.
He said: “This season is not over. We are five points clear and there are still a lot of things we can do.
“Manchester City have two games in hand but if we want to be champions we have to go there to win the game – that is all.
“We don’t want to talk negatively because what we are doing this season is amazing…. now is the time to stick together.”
But some supporters fear the worst.
One posted: “As an Arsenal fan I’ve given up” and another wrote: “Don’t expect us to win it, we are good just not City good.”
Mikel Arteta insists his Arsenal team have not given their title dream the boot