Nigel de Jong was visibly frustrated that Richard Keys criticised Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal team for celebrating victory over Fulham.
The Gunners had to work hard for the three points with goals from Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Magalhaes cancelling out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 56th-minute opener in a 2-1 win.
Arsenal boss Arteta and his players were ecstatic to get the win and maintain their perfect start to the new Premier League season but Keys accused the Gunners of over celebrating, while he called Arteta “extremely irritating”.
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The former Sky Sports presenter was at it again yesterday but this time he was called out for his bizarre take by former Manchester City midfielder De Jong.
Keys starts his rant on beIN Sports: “To put into context, I understand Arsenal fans celebrating in the manner that they did. I felt that the coach and his players over celebrated a 2-1 win against Fulham.”
Watching a clip of Gabriel Magalhaes dropping to his knees and praying, Keys added: “I think this sort of reaction to what happened yesterday, from Arteta and co., tells me how far they’ve fallen.
“Arsene Wenger would’ve been howled out of the arena if his team had scraped a 2-1 win, with in effect an own goal that was way off target until it took a deflection and a present from Jay Leno [presumably meaning Bernd Leno and not the American TV host].”
Fellow pundit Andy Gray replied: “I know what you’re saying, perhaps they did overdo it the players and the staff, and I agree with you in that respect. But, as I said yesterday, they’ve had so little to cheer for and look forward to. Remember 12 months ago they’d just lost three games in a row…”
Keys interrupts: “But whose fault was that, Andy?”
Gray: “But what I’m saying is: they have something.”
Keys hit back: “They hounded Wenger out. They didn’t give Unai Emery enough time to complete the job. A 2-1 win against Fulham.”
Gray: “Nigel and I both won the title and if that had happened we’d have been relieved to have got back in it, fortuitously won the game, shook hands and got off the pitch.”
Keys: “Straight down the tunnel.”
Gray: “Yes. I think that’s what my team would’ve done, I think yours would’ve done the same [pointing at De Jong]? We wouldn’t have been celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup or something like that. I think that’s a measure of where Arsenal are at the moment, as much as anything.”
Keys: “I think it underlines how far they’ve fallen.”
Before De Jong is finally allowed to speak: “I don’t think so…”
Oh wait, Keys is back for more, he added: “A 2-1 win against newly-promoted Fulham is being received in the manner that it was, by the coach and the players. Fine, supporters enjoy your afternoon out, great, and celebrate all you like, but come on…Fulham.”
De Jong: “I think you are putting too weight on the celebrations to be honest. I mean you are only four games in, the four games they have 12 points.
“When was the last time they had four games and 12 points at the start of the season like that. And what you said [pointing at Gray], clearly it is something that is really important to know…Arsenal hasn’t been successful over the past couple of years, they’ve had no reason to celebrate…”
Keys tries to butt in but De Jong says: “No, let me finish. Let them…” *Keys asks his question anyway* Keys: “So you are saying beating Fulham is a measure of the success they’ve had this season?”
De Jong answers: “It’s not about that, you have to see the bigger picture. The fact that they came behind and at their stadium will show resilience. It says something also about that squad and of course it’s early doors.”
De Jong in a raised voice continues: “I think you put too much weight on celebrations.”
Keys: “Nigel, Nigel…”
De Jong: “We talk about celebrations, we don’t take about the game of how they’ve been playing technical wise.”
De Jong: “Let them celebrate. What is the problem with them celebrating?”
Keys: “Nigel, they played Fulham. I would understand that if they’d beaten Tottenham in the north London derby, City the champions, Liverpool perhaps, they beat Fulham.”