Arteta hails Arsenal’s fighting spirit, says top-four still a possibility
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists his team are still in the hunt for the Premier League top-four after the Gunners picked up a point against Chelsea.
Arteta’s side looked to be heading home empty-handed after Cesar Azpilicueta scored with just six minutes remaining to put the Blues 2-1 ahead.
But Hector Bellerin’s brilliant left-footed finish saved a point for the visitors and Arteta was proud of the way his side fought, particularly given the length of time they were down to 10 men after David Luiz’s 26th-minute red card.
‘Time will tell but at least I saw a reaction and all I demand of them is do not give up and keep playing with the spirit,’ Areteta told BT Sport after the game.
‘I am so proud of the team, how they reacted, how they step up when a team-mate makes a mistake and that is what they did, all of them.’
It was Shkodran Mustafi’s poor backpass which led to Luiz’s sending off, as the Brazilian fouled Tammy Abraham who was set to tap-in the opening goal of the game.
After Jorginho scored the subsequent spot kick, Arsenal hung on in there and were rewarded when Gabriel Martinelli broke away to equalise 18 minutes into the second-half.
‘We thought about taking everybody off because energy levels went down,’ admitted the Arsenal manager.
‘We changed our mind a few times but it is a good point in the end given the circumstances.
‘When you are willing, have the spirit and the attitude, you can play anywhere on the pitch. I asked Hector if he would be ready and he said, “Boss, I am ready”. Every three days, that is the demands of this football club.’
Although the point still sees the Gunners closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League spots, the 37-year-old refused to throw in the towel.
Arsenal are currently 10 points off Frank Lampard’s side in fourth, with 15 games remaining.
‘I said to the team I want to see how you behave in this stadium, We are hoping to fight for the Champions League until the end.’