02 February 2024

Mikel Arteta confident White and Zinchenko are ‘best mates’ despite Forest spat

02 February 2024

Mikel Arteta has declared he is happy to see his players bickering after Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko had a spat in the win at Nottingham Forest – insisting a Premier League title race is not a Disney fairy tale.

The Arsenal boss then bizarrely attempted to make light of the on-pitch altercation when he remarked that he pair were now so close they were even “sharing wives”.

White and Zinchenko were separated by coaching staff after the 2-1 victory at the City Ground, a result which kept alive the Gunners’ title ambitions.

Asked if he liked to see his players arguing, Arteta replied: “Maybe we have a different understanding of what the word fight means.

“A conversation can get heated with emotion after the game when you are at 200 beeps a minute. It’s normal. Nothing new.

“I want to see passion and commitment. I want my players to always have the desire to be better and be demanding. If not it is Disneyland.

“I love it. As long as it’s in a respectful way and with the intention to be more demanding as a team and it stays there, I’m very happy with that.”

Arteta had earlier made a joke of the matter when asked if White and Zinchenko had made up.

“Yes, they’ve been in the same house the past few days sharing wives and everything,” he said.

“It’s fine they’re living together now. They’re best mates.

“You don’t argue with someone if you don’t have a great relationship. That happens because you have the trust and chemistry with somebody to react the way they did.”

Arsenal host leaders Liverpool on Sunday afternoon knowing defeat would leave them eight points off the summit.

Victory, though, could propel last season’s runners-up right back into the title picture and Arteta has pointed to recent success against their rivals.

“We have proven we can beat big teams, we come up against Liverpool now and we’re in a much better place,” he added.

“We talk about momentum. It’s been two wins and we want to make it three. It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere, we’re going to need that.

“I encourage people to play with us every single ball. We’re going to need that.”

Arsenal’s task will be made harder by the fact Thomas Partey remains unavailable after he suffered a training ground setback last weekend.

The Ghana midfielder has been missing with a thigh injury and had been hoping to return.

“Thomas unfortunately we had a little setback a few days ago,” added Arteta.

“He’s not going to be available in the squad. We’ll see if it’s a matter of days of weeks. But he had a little thing.

“(It is) a big concern because he is such an important player for us. He was getting some momentum at the start of the season and then we lost him for a while. Now it has been a long time without him.

“He gives us something different that no other player can give us in the squad so he will be a miss.”

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