Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Arsenal hit with a major tactical conundrum from new signing Ben White

Was signing Brighton and England defender Ben White a good decision by Arsenal?

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Arsenal are in the home stretch to sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White. The highly rated centre back joins an Arsenal setup that are struggling to contain attacks.

The Gunners were made to work by their fellow Premier League side to get the deal done. After rejecting the first two bids, the team from South England finally agreed to a fee of £50 million.

He was part of the England setup in the Euro 2020 following a late injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold. However, the youngster could not get an appearance with Harry Maguire, John Stones and Tyrone Mings being preferred. For the next season, Ben White will join the ranks of Rob Holding, Gabriel and Pablo Mari at the heart of the defence as Arsenal aspire high.

However, the Gunners are presented with an issue with Ben White with respect to his defending style.

Arsenal hit with a major tactical conundrum from new signing Ben White

Ben White not the best when it comes to aerial defending

Mikel Arteta has often employed the use of playing out from the back. The tactic, which requires excellent composure and sharpness, has arguably not been Arsenal’s cup of tea so far.

Mistakes from Bernd Leno, David Luiz, and Sokratis have been a common instance with this approach. Brighton manager Graham Potter utilised Ben White to good effect by starting the attacks with him. The English defender would often overcome the press and pass the ball to the midfield to an open player, leading to the attack. Ben White’s ability to carry the ball and composure while in possession makes him an ideal candidate for this style of play, but his aerial skills leave a little doubt.

Ben White ranked 61 out of a total of 75 defenders, who played over 1000 minutes, in the percentage of aerial duels won. The 23-year-old could only win over half of his aerial duels.

This leads to a lot of trouble while defending set-pieces and crosses. To put in context as to the trouble Arsenal might face, former defender David Luiz ranked in the top 25 in this aspect, last season.

Arsenal hit with a major tactical conundrum from new signing Ben White

The Gunners have begun the season on a rocky note

Arsenal have some serious questions to answer in the upcoming season. They will be devoid of European action and have also failed to make it into the top 6 two years in succession now.

The Gunners endured a loss in their opening pre-season game against Hibernian. It was followed by a frustrating 2-2 draw against Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. The only one bright spot in the match came in the form of debutant Nuno Tavares’ goal.

Mikel Arteta has managed to secure Emile Smith Rowe’s future with the club, but they are yet to make any more significant strides when it comes to signings. They are currently keeping tabs on players in a central attacking midfield role and a potential right-back.

Arsenal will play four more pre-season fixtures. Following their leg in Scotland, they will face Inter Milan and conclude their pre-season with a set of London derbies.

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