Danny Welbeck suggested he had mixed emotions after helping Brighton all but end Arsenal’s title hopes.
Brighton, who were , scored three second-half goals to thump Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
While the victory revived Brighton’s European aspirations – the Seagulls are sixth with four games remaining – a damaging defeat may have ended Arsenal’s title dream.
The Gunners had already slipped four points behind Pep Guardiola’s side but the Brighton defeat means Man City now need just three points from their final three games and could clinch the title as soon as next week.
‘It is a tough one [for Arsenal to take],’ said Welbeck, who spent five years at Arsenal earlier in his career.
‘I have a great affiliation with the club, I loved my time here and everyone’s always given me a good reception when I’ve come back.
‘But it’s football and you have to remain professional and we’ve done that today.
Welbeck added: ‘It was very important we responded after the last game. We stuck to our morals, played our football and got a great victory at the end of the day.
‘It’s not something that happens by luck. We work hard during the week and today it’s paid off. We got the goals on top of the performance and it’s a great day for the club. It puts us in a great position and we want to push on.
‘The season’s not over yet. We want to finish strongly, as best as we can.
‘The manager never lets us think we’ve done enough. We’ve improved again this year and want to keep improving, keep pushing on.’
The Emirates clash was on a knife-edge for 50 minutes before Julio Enciso put the visitors ahead with a close-range finish.
Substitute Deniz Undav doubled Brighton’s lead late on before Pervis Estupinan added to Arsenal’s misery with Brighton’s third in injury-time.
A deflated Mikel Arteta said: ‘A week ago I was standing here feeling proud and today we have to apologise for the performance in the second halt. It was not acceptable.
‘Mathematically, it’s still possible, but today it’s impossible to think about it. We need to digest the result and the performance in the second half, understand why and have a different reaction.’
Arsenal will try to keep their fading Premier League title hopes alive next Saturday when they visit Nottingham Forest, while Man City can secure the title 24 hours later when they play host to Chelsea.
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