Arteta expresses admiration for Arsenal’s determination against Southampton: ‘My love for the players has grown stronger’

    Mikel Arteta praised his Arsenal players for fighting back to save the 3-3 draw with Southampton and said he “loves them more than ever”.

    Arsenal were forced to settle for a point in Friday’s game at the Emirates Stadium after losing two goals in 14 minutes.

    Gabriel Martinelli restored hope before half-time after Carlos Alcaraz scored one goal and provided another assist for Theo Walcott, only for Duhe Kaleta-Kar to header the third goal.

    But Martin Odegaard scored an impressive goal in the 88th minute and Bukayo Saka scored a stoppage-time equalizer against Arsenal to keep Arsenal out of the bottom of the Premier League.

    The Gunners have dropped points in three consecutive games but Arteta was pleased with the way his side fought off Southampton.

    “We made it very difficult for ourselves again – mistakes are part of football, but the way we reacted, I love my players more than ever,” he told Sky Sports.

    “It’s unbelievable. We were on the way back, conceded again sloppy, but in the end we should have won.

    “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 miss three like we did, it’s very difficult to win the match.

    “This young team is responding incredibly. When it’s against the odds, but the chances they created and the spirit they had was a joy to watch.

    “The message is clear that I love them. We are losing and they want to win more than anyone. You can see that spirit and fight in the locker room.”

    Arsenal are five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, but they have played two games more than their uniformed title rivals and are heading to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

    “It hasn’t changed,” Arteta said. “Obviously the challenge is even bigger, but now we have to do simple things better and fix bugs and then you will win games.

    ” [Man City game] it’s not the final because there are still six games to go. Anxiety revolves around these moments, especially if the players have doubts at some point.

    “There are moments in football when you make mistakes and that’s not the best moment, but you have to get away from it.

    “I didn’t see anyone hiding – on the contrary. They are ready to do more and more.

    “Today is a good example of what level they can show, how capable they are of playing against a different type of opponent. The spirit is incredible and we should try to do it again.”

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