Mikel Arteta says Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko are on such good terms that since Tuesday’s tête-à-tête after the 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest they’ve moved in together and now share wives.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The two defenders were caught on camera having a heated argument about the way Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi reduced the deficit in the closing stages with White eventually storming off to the dressing room while Arteta and several other players held Zinchenko back.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, the boss said he was delighted to see emotions running high because it meant his players were “pushing each other and demanding excellence.”
The Spaniard was obviously expecting to be pressed on the subject again when he faced the media in his pre-Liverpool press conference, this time joking: “Yeah, they’ve been in the same house for the last three days, sharing wives and everything.
“That’s fine. They’re living together. They’re living together now. They are best mates.”
He added: “You don’t argue with somebody that you don’t have a great relationship with, you know. That happens because you have the trust and you have the chemistry with somebody to react the way you did.”
“I love it [them arguing]. As long as it’s in a respectful way and only with the intention to be more demanding and be better as a team and it stays there, I’m very happy with that.”
When it was put to him that in any other job, a boss might not be comfortable with his underlings fighting each other, he retorted: “Well, maybe we have a different understanding of what the word fight means. A disagreement? Or a conversation, a little bit heated, a little bit emotional after the game, when you are 200 beats a minute, I mean, it’s so normal, nothing new.”
“I want to see passion. I want to see commitment in my players. I want my players to have desire always to be better. And in order to do that, we have to be demanding with each other. If not, it’s Disneyland.”