Monday, October 18, 2021

Mikel Arteta discovers two undroppables as Arsenal finally find new dream duo

Arsenal are slowly getting back on track after a disastrous start to the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.

Mikel Arteta came under immense pressure after the Gunners lost their opening three matches of the season by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0, with the club sitting rock-bottom of the league table.

The north Londoners really struggled defensively and offered very little at the other end of the pitch as well.

However, over the past two games – albeit against two teams Arsenal would expect to beat in Norwich City and Burnley – Arteta’s side have won both matches 1-0.

While there has been plenty of analysis around the recent victories, the return of key players has undoubtedly had a huge impact on the Gunners’ fortunes.

Two of those players are Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes – a centre-back partnership Arsenal supporters have been desperate to see play since the former signed for the club for £50million in the summer transfer window.

Gabriel has already proven last season how he is more than capable of shining in the Premier League and he massively impressed in Saturday’s win at Burnley.

The Brazilian defender had the most clearances (eight), most tackles (three) and the joint-most amount of blocks (two) in the victory at Turf Moor.

His defensive partner White did not have such a good game against the Clarets, with the England international thanking goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for saving him after a loose pass.

White said: “It was a tough one, my heart skipped a beat for a second. It was really, really dry out there and my pass back didn’t get there at all. Luckily Aaron came to save me.”

But it came just seven days after White really impressed on his competitive home debut for Arsenal, helping keep a crucial clean sheet against Norwich.

White will need patience for him to become a top centre-back at Arsenal, but there is no doubt that he has the talent to be able to be just that one day.

Speaking after Arsenal’s defeat to Brentford last month, when White made his debut, Darren Bent called for the fans to show patience with the former Brighton star, and that still applies now.

Bent said to talkSPORT in August: “I felt so sorry for Ben White. If you take Ben White out of Arsenal’s team and put him in Man City or Chelsea, I bet he looks like that £50million player in terms of the way they would dominate possession and he’s a great footballer.

“For Brighton, he played really well in a back three. That’s where he was best and when we bought him.

“When you put him in a back four, everything about the team selection and shape and tactics didn’t fit.

“In the end, him and Pablo Mari got beat up. Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo absolutely beat them up.”

With Gabriel next to White, that is a central defensive partnership that the Gunners could rely on for years to come, with Arteta discovering his next undroppables in his side.

The two are likely to be rested in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon, but there is little doubt that they will both be playing from the start this weekend as Arsenal welcome Tottenham to the Emirates Stadium for the first north London Derby of the season.
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