Mikel Arteta has told his Arsenal players they need to beat Manchester City if they are to win the Premier League title.
The Gunners battled back from two goals down to earn a last-gasp 3-3 draw with bottom club Southampton but the result hands the initiative to City.
The top two meet at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, with Arsenal five points clear having played two more games than Pep Guardiola’s side.
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Arsenal have not won at City since 2015, but Arteta believes they need to change their recent fortunes if they are to lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in 19 years.
“I cannot wait,” he said when asked about the trip to face the team with whom he won two league titles as Guardiola’s assistant.
“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.”
Bukayo Saka’s last-minute equaliser earned the hosts a battling point after Saints had looked on course for a shock win to move off the bottom of the table.
Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard reflects on two dropped points (John Walton/PA).
Carlos Alcaraz opened the scoring inside a minute after being gifted the ball by Aaron Ramsdale and then teed up former Arsenal forward Theo Walcott to double the lead.
Gabriel Martinelli pulled a goal back, but the hosts looked down and out when substitute Duje Caleta-Car headed home in the second half.
However, captain Martin Odegaard bent home a fine strike with two minutes to go before Saka turned in the late leveller and substitute Leandro Trossard rattled the crossbar in stoppage time.
“Today it’s clear,” added Arteta. “You cannot concede the goals the way we did to win games in the Premier League unless we make a miracle.
“I don’t see a lack of confidence. When a team does that normally players start to hide. I played there and players start to hide in certain moments.”
Southampton had only scored nine goals on the road before hitting three at the Emirates Stadium, but even that was not enough to secure the win which would have seen them move above Leicester.
Southampton manager Ruben Selles said his players could hold their heads up (John Walton/PA).
Ruben Selles had seen his side lose three in a row before travelling to north London and felt Saints were unlucky not to win for the first time in seven games.
“It feels like two points dropped,” he said.
“We came here with the intention to win the three points. We knew the game could be navigated in a lot of ways, all of the scenarios.
“We were ready for that, but I was disappointed that we dropped two points at the end.
“Sometimes you can feel disappointment, but I feel we need to go out of this stadium with our chest up. We put in a good performance, they showed they want to play and fight for each other.”