EPL

Mikel Arteta has no issue with Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko scuffle

By Sports Desk January 30, 2024

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta “loved” seeing Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko clash with each other at the end of his side’s 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest.

The Gunners were cruising to an easy three points at the City Ground after second-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka but endured a nervy ending when Taiwo Awoniyi capitalised on a defensive mistake to give Forest a lifeline.

They saw out the victory which closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool, but celebrations were cut short when White and Zinchenko had to be separated after arguing over the goal they conceded.

Arteta 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.”

The victory saw the Gunners exorcise the ghosts of last season when May’s 1-0 defeat at the City Ground saw their title challenge come to an end.

And Arteta was pleased to see his side put that right.

“I could feel it, they were talking about it coming to that dressing room,” he said. “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.

“I am really happy with the performance and the result. 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 to the opponent, we didn’t allow them to run.”

Awoniyi’s goal raised Forest’s hopes of snatching a draw, which would have been a steal considering they made no real attempt to win the match, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s pragmatic approach.

Defeat leaves them hovering precariously above the relegation zone, with the threat of a possible points deduction for breaching Premier League financial rules.

Boss Nuno said: “First half, we defended well. We were organised, compact and didn’t allow too many situations.

“Arsenal are a very good team in possession of the ball. We had to be patient and cover the right spaces in the wide areas.

“We were missing more possession of the ball. We should have had more possession; that was a negative. We were better in that aspect in the second half.

“We started the second half well and had good spells of possession. It was disappointing the way we conceded both goals.

“It was avoidable. We can avoid those situations.

“After we scored, there was a feeling we could have got something. We had a good 10-minute spell. But to sum up, we should have played better.”

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    Cole Palmer’s four-goal haul in Chelsea’s thumping 6-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed by what Mauricio Pochettino called “unacceptable” behaviour as two of his players were involved in a physical altercation over who should take a penalty.

    The home side were four goals up in the second half when Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke caused the unsavoury scene that left their manager feeling the need to apologise to fans watching the game around the world.

    Palmer, the club’s appointed penalty taker, finally took charge following intervention from the captain Conor Gallagher, recovering his composure to score his fourth of the game and move on to 20 Premier League goals for the season.

    “The players know, the club knows that Palmer is the penalty-taker,” said Pochettino, who was visibly agitated during his post-match duties.

    “I’m so, so upset about the situation. In every country people are watching the game and we cannot send this type of image.

    “I want to apologise to our fans. Discipline is the most important thing for the team. It’s a collective sport. I’m not going to accept this type of behaviour. I’m going to be very strong. I promise it’s not going to happen again.

    “We need to move on and talk about the game – 6-0 against a very good team like Everton, clean sheet, I think we should be happy, no?”

    In a debut season defined by individual excellence, the first half was superb, even by Palmer’s own exceptional standards.

    His first goal alone was worthy of winning a Premier League match, nutmegging Jarrad Branthwaite before playing a neat one-two with Jackson, then curling the ball left-footed beyond the dive of Jordan Pickford.

    His second was a poacher’s finish, reacting quickest to knock in the rebound after Jackson’s effort had been pushed out by the goalkeeper.

    Everton were falling apart, a collapse encapsulated by Pickford’s error, playing the ball straight to Palmer to punt the ball into an empty net from 45 yards.

    Jackson scored Chelsea’s fourth, hooking Marc Cucurella’s cross under control and guiding it home with a swing of the right boot.

    Then came the sight of Jackson and Madueke pushing and shoving over a penalty awarded in the 63rd minute.

    “We don’t talk about punishment,” said Pochettino. “It’s about learning. They are young guys. It was very good the reaction of Gallagher like a captain. But you cannot show that type of behaviour.

    “The discipline is going to be stronger. If they behave like kids, it’s impossible. You cannot behave like kids. It’s a shame, it’s an unacceptable thing. We don’t deserve to be talking about this.”

    At the end of an excellent display, academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist capped things off by firing home his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Everton boss Sean Dyche, whose side sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, reflected on a “horrid” night for his team.

    “It’s miles off where we want to be,” he said. “There’s no excuses for that. Miles off the mark, miles from where we’ve been.

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    This was as complete a first half as Chelsea have managed under Mauricio Pochettino, displaying a clinical edge in front of goal that made the insipid attacking displays of earlier in the season feel like a distant memory.

    It was also a night for individuals. Moises Caicedo at the base of midfield gave a performance full of guile and maturity; rarely had he looked so in command in Chelsea colours.

    Nicolas Jackson, who scored the fourth goal, and Mykhailo Mudryk were superb, further turning the tide of opinion in their favour after slow starts to their careers in blue.

    Then there was Palmer, Chelsea’s talisman, who is surely now a contender to challenge his former Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot.

    This was not a perfect 90 minutes and there are still issues for Pochettino to address. When his team were given a penalty at 4-0 up in the second half, there was the unsavoury spectacle of a physical altercation as Jackson and Noni Madueke each tried to take the ball from the appointed taker Palmer. It pointed to a failure of discipline and leadership that the manager must surely address.

    But it could not sour a fine night for home fans in west London, capped off fittingly when academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist fired in his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Chelsea had started the game sluggishly, narrowly avoiding going behind after nine minutes when Beto missed the target from four yards.

    As so often this season it required intervention from Palmer to shake them to life. Receiving the ball deep from Malo Gusto, he impudently nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Jackson, then curled his finish wide of the dive of Jordan Pickford for his first goal of a remarkable first half.

    Soon the floodgates were open. After 17 minutes, Mudryk was played in down the left by Jackson who, receiving it back from the Ukrainian, shot first time. Pickford beat the ball out, but only to the feet of the arriving Palmer who grabbed his second.

    His finish for 3-0 was exquisite, but the opportunity came gift-wrapped from Pickford. The England goalkeeper tried to pick out Amadou Onana but came up short with his pass. In nipped Palmer and, undaunted by the 45-yard distance to goal, lobbed it into the net for his hat-trick.

    Jackson made it four before the break, showing exquisite touch to drag Marc Cucurella’s cross out of the air before turning and guiding the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s grasp into the corner.

    The 22-year-old has shown significant improvement in recent weeks, and his 13th goal of the season was surely his best so far for Chelsea.

    Palmer argued away Jackson and Madueke to make it five from the penalty spot just past the hour mark, then Gilchrist drilled into the bottom corner from Pickford’s parry at the death, as Chelsea moved to within three points of the top six.

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