Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has declared he has no problems with his squad coming to blows with one another – providing they are showing passion for the cause. The Spaniard was commenting in the aftermath of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes’ surprise bust-up at Leicester on Saturday when the two defenders clashed following the full-time whistle – despite helping the Gunners to a clean sheet and all three points.
The footage of the pair arguing came much to the surprise of Arsenal supporters but Arteta insists that kind of passion in good for the dressing room – if channeled in the right way.
“They have a happy marriage,” he said. “They love playing with each other! But they are really demanding of each other, which is good. Everything is fine.”
He later continued: “I don’t want robots, I want players with feeling, with passion.
“That they demand more from each other and that they have a chemistry, and those two certainly have that chemistry on and off the field.
“I love that even when winning, they want each other to do better.”
It’s not the first time players have clashed within Arteta’s Arsenal squad, although this time there were no hands raised.
Last season, Alexandre Lacazette grabbed Cedric Soares by the throat in front of the All or Nothing cameras.
The scuffle was resolved amongst the team and neither player was punished for their involvement in the training ground fracas.
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On that occasion, it was Lacazette that was at fault after the Frenchman reacted angrily to missing out on the ball.
Arteta later said in the sequence that he likes to see passion on the training field as it only increases the competition and quality.
Arsenal have now seemingly recovered from their brief wobble after losing to both Everton and Manchester City in the space of a few weeks.
The Gunners also slipped up at home to Brentford as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Thomas Frank’s side before Man City closed the gap with a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa.
The Premier League leaders can extend their lead at the top to five points on Wednesday if they win their game in hand against Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
It’s the kind of fixture where the Gunners choked last season as they sickeningly surrendered fourth spot to bitter rivals Tottenham during the business end of the season.
But Arteta is adamant there were other circumstances that affected their end of season form as he talked up his side’s mentality.
“Last season we lost certain players,” he said. “We didn’t play well enough and we missed some really big chances and opportunities.
“There were many different reasons. But tomorrow we’re going to need an almost perfect game to win. We have a huge opportunity to take advantage and we have to grab it.”
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