Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta plays down spat between Gabriel and William Saliba

Gunners defenders were involved in angry exchange at end of their victory at Leicester on Saturday

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has played down rumours of a rift between William Saliba and Gabriel after the defenders were involved in a heated argument during the win at Leicester City on Saturday.

The Gunners' narrow 1-0 victory at the King Power Stadium, courtesy of Gabriel Martinelli's second-half strike, meant Arsenal maintained their two-point advantage over Manchester City at the weekend – that will increase to five points if they win their game in hand against Everton on Wednesday.

But their appeared to be flashpoint when Saliba and Gabriel seemed to be engaged in an angry exchange at the end of the game that reportedly resulted in the Frenchman shoving his Brazilian teammate away.

And while Arteta did not go into any detail about what the spat was over, he did insist there were no problems between the pair. “I don’t want robots,” said the Spanish coach ahead of their game at the Emirates Stadium.

“I want players with feeling, with passion that makes demands of each other but at the end they have that chemistry.

“Those two certainly have that chemistry on and off the field and I love that, even when winning, they want to do better.

“They are a happy marriage! They love playing with each other, but they are really demanding with each other – which is good. Everything is fine.”

Arteta believes that their squad depth will be crucial in the coming busy weeks ahead as they look to hold on to their advantage over City and also kick-off their Europa League knockout campaign against Sporting Lisbon in the last 16.

“The fact we have options right now, that we have players coming back from injury is going to be crucial because players cannot maintain the same level for 10 months, it is just impossible,” Arteta added. “We need to change and be more unpredictable and we have those options now.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche, meanwhile, said his team need to show a “strong jaw” away from home if they are to succeed in their bid to avoid relegation.

Everton 1 Arsenal 0: Player ratings

The Merseyside club fell back into the bottom three after a 2-0 home defeat by Aston Villa at the weekend and they face leaders Arsenal away on Wednesday.

Dyche's first game in charge of the club after replacing Frank Lampard was a surprise 1-0 win over Arsenal at Goodison Park earlier this month thanks to a James Tarkowski goal.

But Everton have not won on the road in the league since October 1 and Dyche knows that relying on their home form alone will be a risky strategy for survival.

“Most teams have stronger home forms for all kinds of scientific reasons but it's about the consistency of performances home and away,” said the former Burnley manager.

“We want our players to have a strong jaw and an edge to their play away from home.”

Dyche's biggest puzzle will be trying to coax more goals out of a team that has managed only 17 all season in the league – the worst return in the top flight.

Their leading scorer in the league this season is Demarai Gray with three, while Anthony Gordon also scored three before being sold to Newcastle United in January. Main striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains injured.

“That's the challenge,” Dyche said. “The players know we have not been scoring freely but we have got to adapt and ask questions of the opposition.

“We have shown good signs through the way the team is trying to create the energy, the desire and the numbers getting into the box. It has to lead to something.”

Updated: February 28, 2023, 3:40 PM