Mikel Arteta does not think Arsenal’s trip to Manchester City is like a final after his side dropped points in the Premier League for the third week in a row.
On Friday evening, the Gunners came from two goals down to claim a point against relegation-threatened Southampton.
The result will feel like a defeat for both sides as the Saints would have been able to get off the bottom of the table with a win.
Arsenal are now five points clear of reigning champions Manchester City – who have two games in hand – having drawn against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton in their previous three encounters.
Crucially, however, the two sides will face off at the Etihad Stadium next Wednesday in what could be a winner takes all encounter.
When asked about the title race and whether or not the encounter against Pep Guardiola’s men is like a final, Arteta insisted that it is not.
“It hasn’t changed,” the Spanish manager 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.
“It 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.
“I agree. Very confident, 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.”
On the manic draw against Southampton, Arteta said: “Obviously 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.
“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.”
Gabriel Jesus missed a couple of huge chances and could have won it for Arsenal in the end, and as someone who has experience winning the Premier League, he will be relied on against City next week.
The Brazilian striker was eager to take the positives from Friday’s draw and has insisted Arsenal’s bid to win the title is not over.
“A lot of things is going on now,” Jesus said. “We don’t want to come here and talk negative because we are very positive, what we are doing this season is amazing. The Premier League is tough.
“Now is the difficult moment. It is time now to stick together until the end. We still have a lot of things to do this season, it is not over, we are still five points clear. 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 are the youngest team in the league, not making excuses. Sometimes we do right and sometimes we do wrong, everyone can make mistakes that is why it is so important to stick together.
“Everything can happen. Obviously we are not happy with the last three games, we dropped points and we know this is true, no one has to tell us. We dropped a little bit of our level and focus, this is the Premier League, it is so difficult to win this competition.
“We are still there, we are still fighting and we will fight until the end.”