Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has urged the club to remain united in the battle to end their Champions League exile after another costly defeat.
The Gunners are looking to return to European football’s premier club competition for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign and seemed destined to do so just a month ago.
But three successive defeats, including Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Southampton, since Mikel Arteta was named Premier League manager of the month in March, have left them behind in the race for the top four.
Belgium international Sambi Lokonga remains confident Arsenal can revive their fortunes following a frustrating trip to St Mary’s, which came after they were beaten by Crystal Palace and Brighton.
“I think everyone in the dressing room knows it’s not enough at the moment, but we have to stick together and win again,” the 22-year-old told the club’s website.
“We have to believe, I think that’s the first thing. We need to stick together. We’ve been through this so we can do it again.
“They (the fans) are always behind us so we have to thank them and we need them. They need to stay behind us because we’re going to turn this around.”
Tottenham’s surprise 1-0 loss at home to Brighton in Saturday’s lunchtime game gave Arsenal a great opportunity to regain the initiative.
But, despite dominating possession on the south coast and registering 23 goal attempts, a first-half goal from Southampton defender Jan Bednarek proved decisive.
With a North London derby next month, the Gunners remain three points behind Spurs and on worse goal difference, while Saturday’s results offered encouragement for four other contenders Manchester United and West Ham.
On a more positive note, Arteta’s men have a game to play against their closest rivals: Wednesday night’s trip to third-placed Chelsea.
Southampton’s victory halted a dismal run that gave them just one point from a possible 15, including last weekend’s 6-0 thrashing of Thomas Tuchel’s European champions.
The match-winner Bednarek says the Saints must build on long-overdue success as they seek the club’s first top-half finish in five seasons.
“After last week, it was important for us to be solid, stay compact, try to defend as best we can and score some goals,” said the Polish defender.
“We knew it wasn’t about style, it wasn’t about the way we played. It was more the result, getting the three points after the bad run we’ve had was fundamental for us.
“We got it, three points, but now we have to move on, keep working hard defensively but be a little more creative in our attack.”
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