What has Benjamin White brought to Arsenal?
By Daniel Barratt
As Mikel Arteta takes over his second full season with Arsenal, the rebuild process is finally beginning to take shape. Having had the youngest average aged squad in the Premier League during the 2020/21 Premier League campaign at only 25.1 years of age, things at Arsenal were starting to look like they were heading in the right direction, however after back-to-back 8th placed finishes, manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu Gaspar looked to continue the trend of youthfulness seeing the likes of David Luiz, Willian, Sokratis, Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi depart the club on free transfers.
Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar will be hoping for a change in fortunes in the Premier League this season as they turned their attentions to a new horizon of youthfulness at Arsenal, seeing the squad remain the youngest in the Premier League decreasing from 25.1 to 24.1 years of age.
Mikel Arteta in his playing days at Arsenal FC
"Mikel Arteta" by Kieran Clarke is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The strategy was clear, summer arrivals Benjamin White, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga were all 23 years old or younger at the time of signing for Arsenal, with the intention of new recruits working in tandem with Hale End academy products Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe, as Arsenal look to sustain the long-term future of football club.
Under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa whilst on loan at Leeds United, Benjamin White was given the opportunity to showcase his ability playing every minute of every Championship fixture throughout the 2019/20 campaign as Leeds United sailed to promotion to the Premier League. Benjamin White was a standout performer for Leeds United as he showed he had what it takes to play at the highest level.
After a summer of transfer speculation, linking White with a return to Leeds United, White decided it was best for his development to return to Brighton & Hove Albion to play under manager Graham Potter. White became a key figure at the heart of the Brighton defence where he mustered up 36 appearances out of a possible 38 throughout the 2020/21 Premier League campaign. Having played a full season of Premier League football, White translated his form from the previous year at Leeds United, showcasing his ability at the highest level of English football. This led to a Euro 2020 call up by England manager Gareth Southgate.
In the summer of the 2021/22 season Benjamin White became the third most expensive signing in Arsenal’s history as he arrived for a fee of up to 50 million pounds. But as many have questioned, what has Benjamin White brought to Arsenal?
White’s composure on the ball, ball carrying ability and ability to break lines have been his standout attributes for Arsenal so far this season, seeing the defender become a crucial piece to Mikel Arteta’s puzzle.
Typically, Benjamin White would collect the ball from goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale whether that be under pressure or not, his composure on the ball would allow for quicker and more decisive distribution especially in transition allowing Arsenal to turn defence into attack in an efficient manner.
White’s ball carrying ability allows him to effectively progress the ball whether that be into midfield or out wide to the wingers or full backs depending on how high the Arsenal team are playing. When options are lacking, White can also showcase his ability of ball carrying as seen in this season’s Premier league fixture against Aston Villa where he carried the ball from defence to attack in seconds.
After collecting the ball from goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale White was able to burst through the Aston Villa attack carry the ball across the halfway line into enemy territory. White continued his galloping run, now through the Aston Villa midfield battling clear of Aston Villa pair Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz. After battling clear of the Aston Villa midfield, White was able to enter the final third before playing the ball wide to teammate Emile Smith-Rowe who then played the ball to an overlapping Nuno Tavares before putting a cross into the box, showcasing the impact of Benjamin White not only in defence but in attack too.
Another example of Benjamin White’s ball carrying ability being showcased in matches this season is in Arsenal 2-0 win away against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium weeks ago.
Under no pressure at all, White picked the ball up inside his own half before breaking the lines of the Leicester City midfield as White charged through Leicester City pair Youri Tielemans and Timothy Castagne.
After breaking through the Leicester City midfield, White turned defence to attacking playing a wide ball to Aubameyang who was making a run in behind the Leicester City defence.
White’s contributions to Arsenal this season has seen him become a mainstay in the Arsenal backline alongside defensive partner Gabriel Magalhaes. The pair have accumulated 6 clean sheets in their past 10 starts together in the Premier League with Mikel Arteta hoping to keep the pair fit leading into the second half of the Premier League season.