Albert Sambi Lokonga urges Arsenal to remain united after loss to Southampton
Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has urged the club to remain united in the battle to end their Champions League exile following another costly defeat.
The Gunners are bidding to return to European football’s premier club competition for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign and looked destined to do so just a month ago.
But three successive losses – including Saturday’s 1-0 reverse at Southampton – since Mikel Arteta was named Premier League manager of the month for 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 being beaten by Crystal Palace and Brighton.
“I think everybody in the dressing room knows that it’s not enough for the moment but we need to stick together and get back to winning ways,” the 22-year-old told the club website.
“We need 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 need to say thank you to them and we need them. They need to stay behind us because we will turn this (around).”
Tottenham’s surprise 1-0 home loss to Brighton in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off gave Arsenal a major opportunity to regain the initiative.
But, despite dominating possession on the south coast and registering 23 attempts at goal, a first-half strike from Southampton defender Jan Bednarek proved decisive.
With a north London derby to come next month, the Gunners remain three points behind Spurs and with a worse goal difference, while Saturday’s results offered encouragement for fellow top-four hopefuls Manchester United and West Ham.
On a more positive note, Arteta’s men have a game in hand on their nearest rivals – Wednesday evening’s trip to third-placed Chelsea.
Victory for Southampton halted a dismal run which yielded only a single point from a possible 15, including last weekend’s 6-0 thrashing by Thomas Tuchel’s European champions.
Match-winner Bednarek says Saints must build on the 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, to stay compact, to try to defend as well as we can and score some goals,” said the Poland defender.
“We knew it was not about style, it wasn’t about the way we play. It was more about the result, to get three points after the bad run we’ve had was crucial for us.
“We got it, three points, but now we have to keep on going, keep on working hard in defence but be a little bit more creative in our attacking stuff.”
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