Arsenal defenders Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ben White were involved in a furious post-match row after Bukayo Saka fired them back into the thick of the title race after a stormy win at Nottingham Forest.
Saka struck Arsenal’s crucial second goal to seal a 2-1 victory after Gabriel Jesus had put the visitors in front following a goalless first half. But it was substitute Taiwo Awoniyi’s late strike for the home side that caused the spat in the Arsenal backline.
With the three points secured, Zinchenko and White berated one another on the pitch, apparently about the defensive confusion that led Awoniyi in and caused a nervous ending.
Arteta had to step in to calm his arguing players but insisted he had enjoyed their reaction.
He said: “I love it, they demand more from each other and they are not happy with the way they concede that and they are trying to resolve it.
“It was a bit heated, but that means it is not enough playing the way we played, the result has to be bigger.
“That’s pushing each other and being not happy conceding and I have to encourage that and promote it in the right way and a respectful way.
“Sometimes after the game, it’s emotional and heated but I love that the players are pushing each other and demanding excellence.
“We wanted to generate some momentum in the league and I thought we did that. The performance was very good, we completely dominated the game.
“We had to be patient but we always had an eye to the opponent, we didn’t allow them to run. We generated chances in a number of ways. I think we showed a lot of maturity to deal with the game in the way we had to.”
Arteta also revealed Arsenal had been inspired by their title collapse at Forest last season after the Gunners’ 1-0 defeat at the City Ground in May ensured Manchester City lifted the Premier League trophy.
Arsenal were particularly poor that day and it has clearly preyed on their minds ever since.
The Spaniard added: “I could feel it, they were talking about it coming to that dressing room, it really reminds you, our brains and bodies are really intelligent and coming to the same situation they know what happened and they were really active and engaged and they were talking about the game with each other. I thought it was really good.”
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