It was frantic and it was dramatic, however after a nerve-shredding night time at Emirates Stadium, most had been left considering that Arsenal have handed the Premier League title benefit to Manchester Metropolis.
The three-3 draw in opposition to Southampton – rescued by late strikes from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka, after the guests led 3-1 with two minutes of regular time remaining – means solely Manchester Metropolis have crushed Arsenal at Emirates Stadium within the Premier League this season.
It additionally means Metropolis are actually 5 factors behind Mikel Arteta’s facet, however with two video games in hand. They host the Gunners on Wednesday figuring out they are going to retain the title in the event that they win all their remaining fixtures – however Arsenal can say that too.
Nevertheless, Arsenal’s new uncertainty within the title race was not misplaced on the gamers or the supervisor following a fixture during which they needed to scramble for some extent in opposition to the underside membership.
Ahead Gabriel Jesus, talking to Sky Sports activities, stated: “Manchester Metropolis have two video games in hand but when we need to be champions we’ve to go there to win the sport – that’s all.”
It was a press release Arteta agreed with, whereas former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher claims the Gunners now want one thing “miraculous” to win the title.
‘We’ll combat to the top’
Arsenal haven’t received at Metropolis since 2015, and Arteta is aware of they should change that current report if they’re to elevate the Premier League trophy for the primary time in 19 years.
“I can not wait,” he stated when requested concerning the journey to face the workforce with whom he received two league titles as Metropolis boss Pep Guardiola’s assistant. “These are the video games you need to play. When every little thing is at stake it’s a must to go there to win.
“This younger workforce reacts in a method that’s unbelievable, when it’s in opposition to the percentages, however the possibilities they created and the spirit they’d… it was a pleasure to look at. The message is obvious that I like them.
“We’re down and they’re extra prepared than anyone to win it. You’ll be able to see that spirit and combat within the dressing room however it’s clear we’ve to do defensively issues higher.”
A lot has been fabricated from the absence of the injured William Saliba in Arsenal’s defence, whereas they had been additional hampered by the late withdrawal of Granit Xhaka on Friday due to sickness.
Nevertheless, there was greater than sufficient expertise and expertise in defence to beat Southampton, with full-backs Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ben White each making their a hundredth Premier League appearances.
Zinchenko, coming back from a groin harm, held an impromptu workforce assembly within the centre circle when Arsenal went 2-0 down after 12 minutes.
There was additionally sufficient expertise up entrance to earn three factors – Gabriel Martinelli scored his fifteenth league purpose of the season to equal Roberto Firmino’s report for Brazilians in a Premier League marketing campaign, earlier than Odegaard and Saka confirmed their class.
Nevertheless, for a 3rd successive sport, Arsenal had been discovered wanting.
Arsenal’s former Metropolis striker Jesus stated: “Numerous issues are happening now. We do not need to come right here and speak negatively as a result of we’re in an excellent place. What we’re doing this season is wonderful – the Premier League is hard.
“Now could be the tough second. It’s time now to stay collectively till the top. We nonetheless have loads of issues to do that season, it isn’t over, we’re nonetheless 5 factors clear.
“We’re the youngest workforce within the league, not making excuses. Generally we do proper and generally we do fallacious, everybody could make errors, that’s the reason it’s so necessary to stay collectively.”
‘Arsenal are wobbling like hell’
A draw at house to Southampton won’t sound like an excellent consequence, however after Aaron Ramsdale handed the ball straight to Carlos Alcaraz to attain to after 28 seconds, Arsenal wanted to summon loads of preventing spirit earlier than the late drama.
Comparable errors can’t be afforded in opposition to Metropolis, acknowledged Arteta.
“It isn’t a ultimate as a result of there are nonetheless six video games to go,” he stated. “The priority is popping round these moments, particularly if the gamers in some moments are unsure.
“In soccer you undergo moments whenever you make errors and aren’t in an excellent second however it’s a must to come away from that.”
Having dropped six factors of their previous three video games, Arsenal have allowed Wednesday’s match to develop into near a must-win.
Solely three sides have beforehand been eight or extra factors clear on the prime after 28 video games, as Arsenal had been on 7 April, and didn’t win the title.
The showdown at Etihad Stadium would be the ninth time in Premier League historical past that the highest two have met within the chief’s ultimate six video games of the season with 5 factors or fewer between them.
On 5 of the eight earlier events, the workforce that received the sport went on to win the title.
It’s arrange completely for a thriller – one the place the hunters of Metropolis are chasing wounded prey.
“Arsenal have positively received a bit extra tense within the final couple of video games,” Gary Neville instructed Sky Sports activities. “It’s a mentality factor now.
“They need to go there with freedom and pleasure. The fear is they’re conceding targets and Metropolis will scent blood. They’re all of the hallmarks of a workforce which can be wobbling like hell.
“Arsenal have to choose themselves up for the sport of their lives on the Etihad. It isn’t throughout but, however they’ve the large activity of going to the facility home that’s Manchester Metropolis.
“It’s one sport they’ve left in run in they aren’t anticipated to win. Does that take the strain off and free their minds?”
Having not received the Premier League title for 19 years, and completed exterior the highest 4 in every of the previous six campaigns, it’s some achievement for this younger Arsenal workforce to nonetheless be main the race at this level.
However, as Carragher put it, they now want some magic.
“They should go to Metropolis and get three factors to win the league now I believe,” stated the Sky Sports activities pundit. “They’ll should do one thing miraculous now. It will should be actually particular.
“If that sport is within the stability although Arsenal shouldn’t do one thing silly to attempt to win the sport. In the event that they lose it on Wednesday, it’s all over, Metropolis win the title.”