Mikel Arteta responds to Ben White’s confrontation with Arsenal teammate Oleksandr Zinchenko

Mikel Arteta claimed he “loved” seeing Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko clash at full-time after Arsenal’s 2-1 win against Nottingham Forest.

Arsenal cruised into a two-goal lead after second-half strikes from Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka but had to endure a nervy finish after a defensive mistake allowed Taiwo Awoniyi to claw one back in the 89th minute.

The Gunners held on for a vital three points to move temporarily into second but the post-match celebrations were marred by an altercation between defensive partners White and Zinchencko who became embroiled in a lengthy argument.

However, Arteta didn’t see it that way. “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,” the Spaniard said after the match.

“It was a bit heated, but that means it is not enough playing the way we played, the result has to be bigger.

“Sometimes after the game, it’s emotional and heated, but I love that the players are pushing each other and demanding excellence.”

Having put themselves out of the title race after a 1-0 defeat at the City Ground last year, Tuesday’s result now ensures that Arsenal keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Liverpool who host Chelsea on Wednesday.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Perhaps equally crucially was Jesus’ second-half strike, registering his first goal of the New Year and just his fourth of the season at the end of a month which will likely end in Arsenal failing to bring in attacking reinforcements.

“I am really happy with the performance and the result,” Arteta added. “We saw what happened last year and we wanted to put it right, 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 on the opponent, we didn’t allow them to run.”