London: When Reiss Nelson’s piledriver bulged the net in the seventh minute of stoppage time to seal a thrilling 3-2 victory for Arsenal over Bournemouth on Saturday manager Mikel Arteta admits he lost all sense of control.
As home fans in the Emirates Stadium went berserk, Arsenal’s substitutes streamed on to the pitch, Nelson karate kicked the corner flag and Arteta was overcome with euphoria.
No wonder, because victory from a 2-0 deficit kept Arsenal five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with both sides having 12 games left.
Arteta, who kicked every ball throughout an enthralling contest, conceded it was the most emotional moment he had experienced since returning to the club as manager.
“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.
“(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 fans with that joy in their eyes, it’s great to live. It was an extraordinary day, a beautiful experience.”
It was the kind of result that can often be pivotal in title races and the mood among fans streaming out at the end was that Arsenal are in sight of their first title since 2004.
The way they responded after losing a goal inside the opening 10 seconds and then going 2-0 down before the hour mark when Marcos Senesi headed in was magnificent.
Thomas Partey and substitute Ben White evened it up before Nelson, who also came off the bench, fired home with what was almost the last kick of the game.
Former Arsenal title winner Paul Merson said it was a massive moment in the title race.
“I think they win the league,” Merson told Sky Sports. “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. 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.” Arsenal’s next three league games are against Fulham, Crystal Palace and Leeds United before a trip to Liverpool.