Mikel Arteta declared William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes have a “happy marriage” as he backed Arsenal’s defenders after their public spat at Leicester City.
A heated coming together between the pair at the end of Arsenal’s 1-0 win on Saturday came to light after the game, but Arteta insists it should be viewed as a positive.
With Arsenal hunting down a first Premier League title since the 2003-04 season, Arteta said there is no room for “robots” in his team.
He wants to see personality, even if it means his players jostling each other on the pitch at times.
“They are a happy marriage,” Arteta said ahead of Wednesday’s clash with struggling Everton. “They love playing with each other, but they are very demanding with each other. This is good and everything’s fine.
“I don’t want robots, I want players with feeling, with passion, that demand from each other. At the end they have that chemistry. Those two certainly have that chemistry on and off the field.”
Sean Dyche’s Everton head to Emirates Stadium back in the relegation zone following Saturday’s home defeat to Aston Villa.
Everton have won two of their four games under Dyche, including the reverse fixture between these teams at the start of February, but despite creating good opportunities against Villa, their lack of attacking firepower in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin again came home to roost.
With Calvert-Lewin showing no signs of returning from injury just yet, Dyche wants others to step up.
“The team mentality has to be ‘we’re all allowed to score,'” said Dyche. “I ask that of them defensively – clean sheets start from the front. It’s only fair to ask it the other way around.
“Players have to take responsibility as a group in making enough chances and taking enough chances.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arsenal – Gabriel Martinelli
Gabriel Martinelli has scored in his last two Premier League appearances for Arsenal – he’s never scored in three in a row within the same season before. He has scored nine Premier League goals this season and could become the third Brazilian to reach double figures in a single campaign while aged 21 or under, after Gabriel Jesus (2017-18) and Richarlison (2018-19).
Everton – James Tarkowski
James Tarkowski scored Everton’s winner against Arsenal in the reverse fixture – the last Toffees player to score home and away against the Gunners in the same Premier League campaign was Tomasz Radzinski in 2003-04.
MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN
Arsenal have won 99 of their 203 league games against Everton (D43 L61), and could become the first team in English league history to register 100 victories against a specific opponent.
While Dyche haslost just one of his last six against Arsenal (W2 D3), Everton have won just one of their last 26 away games against Arsenal in the Premier League (D4 L21), picking up a 1-0 victory in April 2021. The Toffees have never won a Premier League away game against the side starting the day top of the table.
On the road, Everton have been woeful. They have won just one of their last 13 Premier League away games, a 2-1 win at Southampton in October (D5 L7). Since that victory, the Toffees have scored just one goal in their seven away games (D2 L5), with Demarai Gray netting in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City in December.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Arsenal – 55.3 percent
Everton – 18.7 percent
Draw – 26.0 percent