Mikel Arteta has told his Arsenal players that they must beat Manchester City if they want to win the Premier League title.
The Gunners recovered from two goals down to earn a last-gasp 3-3 draw with bottom club Southampton, but the result gives City the initiative.
The top two will meet at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, with Arsenal five points clear having played two more games than Pep Guardiola’s side.
Arsenal have not won at City since 2015, but Arteta believes they need to turn their recent fortunes around if they are to lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in 19 years.
“I can’t wait,” he said when asked about the trip to face the team with which 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 ready for that, that’s for sure.”
Bukayo Saka’s last-minute equalizer gave the hosts a battle point after Saints looked set for a shock win to climb out of the bottom of the table.
Carlos Alcaraz opened the scoring within a minute after being gifted the ball by Aaron Ramsdale and then gave it to former Arsenal striker Theo Walcott to double the lead.
Gabriel Martinelli recovered a goal, but the hosts looked down and out when substitute Duje Caleta-Car headed home in the second half.
However, captain Martin Odegaard deflected a fine goal two minutes from time before Saka scored a late equalizer and substitute Leandro Trossard hit the crossbar in stoppage time.
“Today it is clear,” added Arteta. “You can’t concede goals like we did to win games in the Premier League unless we pull a miracle.
“I don’t see a lack of confidence. When a team does that, usually the players start to hide. I played there and players start hiding at certain times.”
Southampton had only scored nine goals on the road before netting three at the Emirates Stadium, but even that was not enough to secure the victory that would have seen them edge past Leicester.
Ruben Selles had seen his team lose three in a row before traveling to north London and felt the Saints were unlucky not to win for the first time in seven games.
“It feels like two missing points,” he said.
“We come here with the intention of winning the three points. We knew that the game could be navigated in many ways, in all scenarios.
“We were ready for that, but I was disappointed that we lost two points at the end.
“Sometimes you can feel disappointed, but I feel that we must leave this stadium with our chests held high. We put in a good performance, they showed that they want to play and fight for each other.”