Merse: If Arsenal win next three, they win title | Arteta: Our most-emotional moment

Paul Merson says if Arsenal win their next three Premier League games, they will win the title as Mikel Arteta calls the dramatic victory against Bournemouth “our most-emotional moment”.

In a game that could prove defining in the title race, Arsenal came from 2-0 down versus the relegation-threatened Cherries to win 3-2 thanks to Reiss Nelson’s superb 97th-minute strike.

It sees Arsenal maintain their five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the league – who beat Newcastle 2-0 in Saturday’s early game – with 12 games to play.

Sky Sports pundit and former Gunners striker Merson believes Arsenal will win the title after their comeback win – especially if they win their next three league matches.

They face Fulham away next Sunday, live on Sky Sports, with home matches against Crystal Palace and Leeds to follow.

“I think they win the league,” Merson said on Soccer Saturday. “They just keep on going and don’t know when they’re beaten. It’s four [Premier League wins] on the trot and you’ve got to remember the roll they were on before they started winning those games.

Arsenal’s next six Premier League games

  • Fulham (a) – Sunday March 12, kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Crystal Palace (h) – Sunday March 19, kick-off 2pm
  • Leeds (h) – Saturday April 1, kick-off 3pm
  • Liverpool (a) – Sunday April 9, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • West Ham (a) – Sunday April 16, kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Southampton (h) – Friday April 12, kick-of 8pm, live on Sky Sports

“They went 1-0 down at Villa after 10 minutes when they hadn’t won for three games, had just been well beaten by Man City and they bounced back.

“They’ve been brilliant and the next three games will be defining for me. If they win them, I don’t see how they don’t win it.

“After Senesi scores [for Bournemouth’s second], you think the worst way out here is 2-2. Then [Thomas] Partey scores and [Benjamin] White scores, which was provided by Reiss Nelson. And what a goal it was from him.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Arsenal and Bournemouth

“Bournemouth probably had the better chances at stages. They didn’t pick the right pass when they counter-attacked. They’ll be devastated in the dressing room.

“But what I like about Arsenal is they keep on going, they pen you in. When the ball goes in the box, there aren’t too many players in the box, they’re more all out of the box to keep them pressed in, then the ball comes out and they go again. It was relentless.”

Man City’s next six Premier League games

  • Crystal Palace (a) – Saturday March 11, kick-off 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Liverpool (h) – Saturday April 1, kick-of 12.30pm
  • Southampton (a) – Sunday April 9, kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Leicester (h) – Sunday April 16, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Brighton (a) – Sunday April 23, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Arsenal (h) – Wednesday April 26, kick-off 8pm

Arteta: Our most-emotional moment | ‘I started to run and didn’t know where I was!’

It was another game that proved the resilience and ‘never say die’ attitude of the young side Arteta has pieced together at Arsenal.

With a beaming smile, he described how his side came from behind to win the game at the Emirates, and pointed to it as a key moment for the club.

“It was probably the loudest and most-emotional moment we have lived together,” he said. “The journey that we’ve been on together and how the supporters and team are together, adding the important moment we had today, it was very special.

Mikel Arteta celebrates with his team after Arsenal's late win against Bournemouth
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Mikel Arteta celebrates with his team after Arsenal’s late win against Bournemouth

“Everybody is probably overwhelmed a little bit. It was madness from the first second of the game with a routine we knew they could do and we defend so poorly.

“Then we just had to climb a mountain with 10 players behind the ball. We tried every single way, we didn’t score the goal and suddenly, we are 2-0 down with a set play again.

“After that, we don’t lose the shape, don’t lose the discipline and start to do all the simple things right and try to score the first goal. We showed maturity and resilience to do that. Once we did that, the atmosphere changed and the energy.

“Once we scored the second, it was ‘OK, let’s throw the toys out and go for it’. The subs made a huge impact today, I’m so happy for Reiss after the difficult months he’s had.

Arteta update on Trossard injury

Leandro Trossard was taken off with an injury midway through the first half, with Mikel Arteta offering an update on his player after the game.

He told Sky Sports: “He felt something in his groin when he was tracking back in the first half. He had to come off so it looks like something muscular.”

“I think the team and individuals showed they had a different level of willingness to win, determination and initiative, because when the game gets ugly, there is a moment where you can lose momentum. You can start to hide and to navigate through the game.

“But the players didn’t do that. They wanted the game, every time with the ball, they took risks, took initiative and kept trying until we broke them down. It was great to see that from the team.

“[When the winner went in] you lose sight of where you are. I started to run and I didn’t really know where I was running to! But just looking in the faces of everybody, the staff, the players, our supporters with that joy in their eyes, it’s great to live.

“It was an extraordinary day, a beautiful experience at the end. Very dramatic, but worth living because it was a great end to it.”

Ben White celebrates after equalising for Arsenal against Bournemouth
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Ben White celebrates after equalising for Arsenal against Bournemouth

Saturday’s victory brings to an end a pivotal week of Premier League matches for Arsenal, having also beaten Leicester and Everton over the last seven days.

It leaves them with a strong lead at the top of the table, and Arteta was pleased to see his side winning games in various ways.

He added to Sky Sports: “It’s just another game and another three points. To win three in a week in this league is extremely difficult. We’ve done it and you have to win games in different ways. Hopefully that will give us more belief.

“We want to stay there [at the top of the table] but obviously it’s going to take a lot of effort. There’s still a lot of games to play and the Premier League, unfortunately every game is like that, but that’s the beauty of it.”

Nelson: My eyes lit up when ball came out for winner

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Former Arsenal player Paul Merson reacts to Reiss Nelson’s late winner for Arsenal against Bournemouth

Nelson’s winner came not only at a perfect moment for the team, but also the player himself. He was sidelined with a recent thigh injury, and was left out of the last two Premier League squads.

He also added an assist for Benjamin White’s equaliser and has now been involved in more goals than any other sub in the Premier League this season – scoring three off the bench and two assists.

The Arsenal forward told Sky Sports after the game: “It feels amazing. When the ball came out, my eyes lit up.

Reiss Nelson strikes for Arsenal's third goal against Bournemouth
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Reiss Nelson strikes for Arsenal’s third goal against Bournemouth

“It’s been a tough couple of months for me coming back from injury. Everyone knows how hard I’ve worked in the background, so when that goal went in, everyone went crazy and it was a great moment for me.

“I’ve been here all my life and Arsenal means a lot to me. At the end of the day, we want to win games and it’s a team sport. That’s what we look towards and I’m happy to be a part of it.

“He [Arteta] told me to keep wide, use my strengths to go one v one with the full-back. That’s what I tried to do so I’m happy with the assist and the goal… it was a great strike and hopefully the first of many.”

His manager Arteta was also delighted with Nelson’s performance, saying: “I’m so happy for him because the last few months with injuries and the last two games, he wasn’t in the squad.

Reiss Nelson is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring a late winner for Arsenal
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Reiss Nelson is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring a late winner for Arsenal

“That’s what you need from players – to come in and keep working and have that willingness to impact the game. He did that with an assist and a goal so I’m really happy for him.

“If we put him on the training ground and in 50 times, he might not score it, but he did it in the perfect moment for the team and he fully deserves that moment.”

As a former forward himself, Merson was also impressed with the winner, adding: “If he plays another 500 games, I don’t think he’ll get a better goal. Everything about it – the last kick of the game, it comes out and he has all the time in the world. He had a free shot, he composed himself and it’s an absolutely brilliant goal.”

O’Neill disappointed but praises Bournemouth effort

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Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil was left bitterly disappointed after the Cherries threw away a 2-0 lead away at Arsenal to end up losing 3-2 in stoppage time

For Bournemouth, it was a painful end to a largely impressive performance against the Premier League’s top club.

It started so well for the Cherries too, as Phillip Billing scored the second-fastest goal in the league’s history as he slotted home after nine seconds.

Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil praised the effort of his team, who remain in the relegation places after the late defeat.

“I thought we gave it a real good go against the best team in the country,” O’Neil told Sky Sports.

“Everyone that comes here gets dispatched fairly easily. We didn’t, but I’m bitterly disappointed for the group and for everybody that we suffer in the last seconds. But it was a huge effort from everyone to make it as close as it was.

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Paul Merson and Jeff Stelling react to Phillip Billing’s quick-fire goal to put Bournemouth ahead against Arsenal

“I don’t know when it [Arsenal’s winner] went in, maybe slightly over the allotted time, but we still have to see out the corner anyway. We had some moments, Arsenal were very dominant with the ball and our lads defended very well, we just couldn’t quite hang on.

“The kick-off routine is one we came up with. We scored two goals from decent set plays and should’ve scored a couple more on the counter.

“To suffer a 3-2 loss in the nature that we did is very disappointing, but I’m sure when the dust settles and we look at it as a whole, to take Arsenal that far with the type of form they’re in and the team they are, and where we are and where we’ve been for the last few years, it was a big effort from everyone.

“The boys will be devastated, as am I, for the next few hours or maybe slightly longer. But Liverpool come next week and we’ll be ready.”

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