Arsenal suffer title blow despite rescuing dramatic 3-3 draw with Southampton

Arsenal struck two late goals to rescue a point in a pulsating 3-3 home draw with bottom club Southampton but their Premier League title hopes suffered another blow on a Friday night of frazzled nerves in north London.

Late goals from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka rescued a point for Arsenal at the Emirates but the hosts couldn't complete the comeback when Leandro Trossard hit the crossbar in injury time.

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Arsenal increased their lead over reigning champions Manchester City to five points ahead of Wednesday's blockbuster clash of the top two at the Etihad, although City now have two games in hand and are clear favourites for the title.

Southampton belied their precarious position with some courageous football, but remain bottom with 24 points, three below the safety zone having played a game more than those above them.

Despite the setback, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remained defiant. "It hasn't changed," he said.

"Obviously the task is even bigger but now we have to do the simple things better and cut out mistakes. We made it very difficult again for ourselves but the way we reacted I love my players more than ever."

Striker Gabriel Jesus offered a similar message

"Now is the difficult moment. It is time now to stick together until the end," he said. "We still have a lot of things to do this season. Nothing is over.

"We are still five points clear. They [City] have two games in hand. If we want to be champions we have to go there and win the game, that's all."

Arsenal were left dejected despite rescuing a late point against Southampton.
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

For much of a stomach-churning encounter it appeared Arsenal would suffer a hammer blow in their quest to hold off Manchester City and win the league for the first time since 2004.

They conceded after 28 seconds when keeper Aaron Ramsdale gifted a goal to Carlos Alcaraz and were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes as former Arsenal forward Theo Walcott fired home.

Gabriel Martinelli struck back for the Gunners after 20 minutes and Arsenal were millimetres away from equalising in stoppage time at the end of a pulsating opening half as Ben White's header was cleared off the line.

The visitors, seeking a first win in seven league games in their desperate battle to extend their 10-year stay in the top flight, appeared to be heading for a priceless victory.

Many Arsenal fans were heading for the exits when captain Odegaard curled a shot past Gavin Bazunu in the 88th minute to throw the hosts a lifeline.

And when Saka equalised in the 90th minute the stadium was rocking on its foundations.

With the home fans willing Arsenal to find a winner, just as they did a month ago when coming back from two goals down against Bournemouth, they laid siege to the Southampton goal.

In eight nailbiting minutes of stoppage time Trossard hit the woodwork, fellow substitute Reiss Nelson's shot was deflected agonisingly wide of the post and Gabriel Jesus was denied a spot kick after tumbling in a congested penalty area.

There was to be no final twist to the plot, however, and both sets of players looked spent at the final whistle, collapsing to the turf after a draw that did little to help either side in their very different objectives.

"That's two points dropped, but it is very hard here," Southampton manager Ruben Selles said. "I told them they did a fantastic job and we need to continue. We showed character and we showed what we can do.

"We are proud of the work ethic and that is the way we need to follow from now."

Whatever happens over the next few weeks, a health warning should be issued to Arsenal fans of a nervous disposition.

This was their third dramatic draw in a row, following back-to-back 2-2 away draws against Liverpool and West Ham United in which two-goal leads were squandered, allowing City to gain the initiative ahead of next week's showdown. 

Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this report.