Mikel Arteta admitted he loves the post-match spat between Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ben White following Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.
The Gunners, who scored twice in the second period after dominating much of the contest, were forced to hang on to all three points after Taiwo Owoniyi scored on the brink of stoppage time.
Zinchenko had a role to play in Forest halving the deficit which stole a clean sheet away from an otherwise untroubled Arsenal backline. The Ukrainian then engaged in a verbal spat with fellow full-back White on the City Ground pitch during the celebrations which Arteta described as "heated".
Why Mikel Arteta 'loved' Ben White & Oleksandr Zinchenko beef
White was likely a bit peeved about the concession of a late goal, with the pair having to be physically restrained by teammates, but Arteta insisted the pair were merely "pushing each other"
"I love it!" the Spaniard effusively commented in his post-match presser. “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.”
Excellence is what it's going to take if Arsenal are to thrust themselves into title contention given the competition. A woeful run at the end of 2023 has seen the Gunners with plenty of ground to make up, although Tuesday's victory over Forest saw Arteta's men climb up to second before Manchester City host Burnley on Wednesday night.
A defining fixture is on the horizon as they welcome Premier League leaders Liverpool to the Emirates on Sunday. Only a win will do for the Gunners, who were beaten by the Reds on home soil in the FA Cup three weeks ago.
As for White and Zinchenko, I'm sure any issues would've have been resolved by the time Liverpool come to town. Their differing personalities render such exchanges not a total surprise, and Arteta rightfully spun the spat as a positive ahead of a mammoth encounter.