The highly anticipated duel between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (October 8, 2023) evening was marred by a brawl between players and officials from both teams. Apparently, the trigger for this incident was just a trivial matter.
In this Premier League match in week 8, Arsenal successfully defeated Manchester City with a score of 1-0, thanks to Gabriel Martinelli’s solitary goal in the 86th minute.
Thanks to this result, Arsenal temporarily occupies third place in the standings with 18 points. On the other hand, City still sits in second place with 18 points.
After the final whistle, Manchester City players immediately headed towards the stadium tunnel. However, when they reached the edge of the field, their progress was halted.
On the sidelines, Erling Haaland and Kyle Walker apparently had a heated exchange with Arsenal’s set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover. Initially, Walker was the one who turned around and approached Jover.
Walker’s actions were soon followed by Haaland. The commotion even escalated and involved more players and officials from Arsenal and City.
As reported by The Sun, at that time, Jover intended to shake hands with Walker. However, Walker felt emotional and turned to confront Jover. Walker took offense at Jover’s invitation.
It should be noted that before becoming Mikel Arteta’s staff at Arsenal, Jover had previously been Pep Guardiola’s staff at Manchester City. This means that Jover was already familiar with most of the City players.
However, Walker was upset with Jover’s handshake invitation because last season Jover refused to shake hands with the City players and staff twice.
In two meetings in February and April, Arsenal was always forced to surrender to City. These two defeats were one of the reasons why Arsenal ultimately lost the title race to City.
When speaking to the City squad in the dressing room, Walker admitted that he was not pleased with Jover’s handshake invitation due to his behavior in the two meetings last season.
The English Football Association (FA) reportedly will not take any further action regarding the brawl that occurred after the Arsenal vs. City match. This means that Walker, Haaland, and Jover have avoided sanctions.
FA has reviewed the footage of this brawl and has decided that there is no reason for them to take further action.
Meanwhile, Guardiola himself claimed to have known the reason behind this brawl. On the other hand, Arteta claimed he did not see the incident.
“I know what happened, but I don’t want to say anything,” Guardiola said about the brawl incident.
“They [Arsenal] know it,” he added.
Manchester City lost to Arsenal in the hunt for Declan Rice’s signature. Shortly after that, manager Josep Guardiola revealed the reason.
Rice’s outstanding performance for West Ham caught the attention of both Man City and Arsenal. Both teams engaged in a bidding war to sign him.
Arsenal eventually emerged as the winner. The 24-year-old midfielder became a Gunners player after being acquired for a fee of 116 million Euros.
Man City’s defeat in this pursuit was quite surprising. After all, Man City has more trophies and is financially better off than Arsenal.
So, what caused Rice to fail to join Man City at the Etihad Stadium?
Arsenal’s victory in getting Rice is not unrelated to the player’s own decision. Rice felt that he was a better fit with Arsenal because Mikel Arteta was able to convince him.
“Everyone knows how much we wanted him [Rice]. We could play him when Rodri couldn’t play,” Guardiola explained, as quoted from 90min.
“But in the end, Arsenal dared to bid more because they really wanted him. Mikel Arteta or even the club itself seems much better at convincing him,” he continued.
Apart from the personal decision, Man City also failed to match Arsenal’s offer because Rice was not a priority at that time. Man City’s priority was to bring in Josko Gvardiol.
“Their [Arsenal’s] offer couldn’t be matched by us because we had other priorities, namely Josko Gvardiol. So we couldn’t pay that much,” said Guardiola.
Gvardiol himself was brought in from RB Leipzig for 90 million Euros. With that much budget, Man City couldn’t raise the offer for Rice to more than 100 million Euros.
The failure to sign Rice forced Man City to look for alternative options. Two new midfielders were eventually signed in the summer of 2023.
Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) and Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton) were chosen to strengthen Man City’s midfield composition.