Arsenal and Manchester City involved in angry tunnel exchanges

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Kyle Walker reacts angrily to something said by Arsenal set-piece coach Nicolas Jover

Arsenal and Manchester City were involved in angry exchanges at the mouth of the tunnel after a dramatic late winner from Gabriel Martinelli condemned the champions to rare back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.

The altercation appeared to initially involve City captain Kyle Walker who reacted to something said by Arsenal set-piece coach Nicolas Jover, who seemed to want to shake his hand, as he walked off the pitch at the end.

Walker was joined by Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish, who backed up the defender, with staff and stewards then pulling them away and directing them down the tunnel.

Erling Haaland wades into the confrontation

Erling Haaland wades into the confrontation – Sky Sports

Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka, who did not play in the game through injury and will now withdraw from the England squad, then attempted to calm Jover down. The Arsenal coach used to work at City.

City manager Pep Guardiola was asked about the incident after the game and said, after a pause and a shake of his head: “I know what happened, but I don’t want to say.”

Asked if he was happy with the way in which Arsenal behaved, Guardiola, with a smile, added: “Yes, absolutely.”

The incident involving Jover was not the only row of the afternoon, as former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri was confronted by a home supporter just before the start of the second half.

Nasri was a pundit for French broadcaster Canal+ and was squared up to by an Arsenal fan as he returned to his seat in the press box. The fan was ejected from the ground and Nasri was spoken to by stewards.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta said he did not know what occurred in the altercation involving Jover and had also not seen a replay of the challenges made by Mateo Kovacic, which could have seen the City midfielder sent-off.

Kovacic was fortunate that his yellow card was not changed to a red by Var and then got away with another late challenge without being booked.

“I saw the action live and it looked a big challenge,” said Arteta. “But I haven’t seen the replay. I understand we have to do something about it, but we managed to win the game.”

Mateo Kovacic tackles Martin Odegaard from behind
Mateo Kovacic only saw yellow for this tackle on Martin Odegaard – Sky Sports
Mateo Kovacic goes into the back of Declan Rice
Kovacic also went into the back of Declan Rice – but wasn’t booked – Sky Sports

The result was the first time that Arsenal have defeated City in the league in eight years having lost their 12 previous fixtures, including both meetings last season when they were overhauled in the title race. It is also the first time City have lost two consecutive Premier League matches since December 2018.

The significance of Martinelli’s late goal was not lost on Arteta who, finally, got the better of his mentor, Guardiola, who gave him his first job in coaching as his assistant manager at City.

“It’s been so many years without beating them and today we have beaten, in my opinion, the best team in the world,” Arteta declared. “It sends a message to the team.”

Asked whether Arsenal had now overcome a psychological barrier, Arteta added: “Well, I don’t know if it is a barrier but it was something we needed to go through. The team showed a real maturity today and that maturity comes from experience.

“So proud. It was the moment with the right people and the right players. We knew we would have to suffer and we did that. You need a big performance and the crowd too. It feels like a big win.”

Telegraph Sport reported last week that Saka was set to miss the game against City, handing England manager Gareth Southgate another headache. The forward is expected to be asked to report for international duty for further assessment, but Arteta said: “No, he will not make it. He has not had a single training session, so he will be out.”

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