Arteta on White’s debut, absent Gabriel and Saka’s return

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In addition to fielding questions about Thomas Partey’s injury and Granit Xhaka’s future, Mikel Arteta was also quizzed on his first impressions of new signing Ben White, the injury status of Gabriel Magalhaes and when Bukayo Saka is due to return.

Here’s what the boss had to say after today’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in our penultimate friendly of pre-season…

On Ben White’s debut…

I’m really pleased with the condition he came in and the direction we want to take, it’s a player we’ve been looking for for years now and we identified him as a great option for our game model, the balance we want in the squad in terms of youth and those who can develop with us. It’s great recruitment.

On whether Gabriel will be available for Brentford…

I don’t know. He’s still injured. He picked up an injury when he was doing the preparations for the Olympics with Brazil. At the moment, he’s not able to train with us at the moment so it’s unlikely. Hopefully, he can recover quickly.

On Bukayo Saka’s return…

He’s back very soon. He needed some holiday, he needed to be away, he’s had an incredibly busy year. He’ll be back in the next few days and I’m looking forward to seeing him.

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The half

I’m actually happy with most of our first team. No to Elneny.

But our bench is an absolute shambles.

The half

If we get many injuries, we be in trouble.

Giuseppe Hovno

We already have two injured first team players and the season hasn’t started yet! (Gabriel and Party)

The half

Interesting that down voters think our bench is rock solid.

Ash

I think maybe it’s the first half of your statement that folks took issue with…

Hurensohn

I don’t think Elneny is a problem, how is he a problem…?

IamaGoober

How can you be happy with the first team? Literally it’s the same squad of players bar Ben White that got us to what, 9th in the table last campaign. We are atrocious, the football we play is genuinely terrible. I’ve said this countless times, but I’ll say it again. Our statistics are woeful, and we play awful football. Again today, we created 1.1 xG to Chelsea’s 2.1 xG. Under Arteta we’ve been doing that literally every single game. His underlying data is bad, hence we get bad results. Unless they spend a lot of money on that first team… Read more »

ASH

I have not seen Arsenal lose a game last season, and thought we should have cruised this one. At most in those games, we could have got a draw.

With the exact same attacking personnel, and removing Saka (on holiday), Arsenal should aim for draws in Aug.

IamaGoober

Cruised what?? How can you possible say we cruised a result when we literally created less goal scoring opportunities than the other team? Out of all of the metrics used to measure football, xG is a fairly reliable bearing as to the quality of your team. Sides that consistently produce high xG tend to be up at the top of the table. Teams that have a low xG are towards the bottom. I think the only club that have had a high xG and a low output were Brighton last season, and fairly sure its the first time that’s happened… Read more »

The half

We have a good first team player in almost every position.

Leno, KT, WHITE, Gab, Partey, Saka, ESr, pepe, lok, Auba.

Great players.

We have a couple of gaps. We have a shocking bench.

We were six points off 4th.

Put it this way, even if we didn’t improve the team this summer (which we must), Arteta should challenge for top 4.

That he spent four months forcing the woeful Willian on the team suggests that his stubbornness may be his downfall.

Ray's ice cream Parlour

Our 2nd 11

Runnarson

Cedric / Bellerin
Holding
Mari
Taveres

El Neneny
Sambi

Willian / Nelson
Willock
Nketiah / Martinelli

Lacazette

I think most fans would see those players in bold as the ones they don’t have full confidence in to get us back to the top 4 – the others are solid or have promise. Wouldn’t call it a shocking bench by any means.

If we get a RB, then I’m happy with Chambers as back up.

Upgrade in CM def. needed

Back up GK also a must.

The half

Who is in the first 11 if that is the 2nd?

Merlin's Panini

Seems to be suggesting:
Leno

Chambers
White
Gabriel
Tierney

Partey
Xhaka

Saka
Smith Rowe
Pepe

Aubameyang

IamaGoober

Is this the same first team that got us to 9th in the league? Or am I missing something

Teryima Adi

Take it easy, Bro.

IamaGoober

??

Filsuf

Our bench is made by citroen. Of course it’s a shambles!

karl

It looks like Arteta will settle to keep a lot of the team that have taken us to 8th for his two seasons in charge. We cannot move forward with Bellerin, Elneny and Xhaka.

Look at the new signings. Two of them are considered backup options (although they look good enough to play) and White comes in to a defence that was probably the best element of the team last year. The real improvement is needed further forward.

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Sell Xhaka and make KT captain and you’ll go some way to getting the mighty Gooners onside.

Sak, Lac & Craic

Evidently not. The downotes and the cheers for Xhaka today suggest you’re in a minority there.

Onenil

Xhaka is not the problem. Unfortunately he is not the solution either.

Atom

Xhaka kind of summarizes what’s wrong with Arsenal the past 5-6 years though. He gives his all which fans should appreciate. However his weaknesses are significant enough that the entire team has to be structured to hide them. That means the team has to play in a much slower and more defensive structure, which has impacted our offense. We flat out don’t create chances so unless something changes the team is going to struggle. He’s just not a top 4 PL player.

martinhaze

The problem with Xhaka is that the entire functioning of the team is built around him. He’s a good player, but why can’t he just be a cog in a much more sophisticated and successful machine?

Tanned arse

I think xhaka IS actually a huge problem if he stays. He’s not just a player. He’s massively influential when he plays. He dictates so much of what we do both going forwards and defensively in terms of set-up tempo and structure. He’s the opposite of dynamic and effects everything around him. He can ‘appear’ to play well if just analysing good moments (like executing 40 yards balls with the outside of his foot) but the things he doesn’t do is constantly having a negative impact on what the team does. I guess it depends how deep you want to… Read more »

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Me being in the minority makes no difference to the blind who claim to see. Tell me what he adds to a team that hopes one day to be in the top 4 again? Tell me how our mighty club will move forward with an average slow player who would not get into any of the top 6 teams? Doesn’t it strike you as concerning that only an average team like Roma were interested in him? It’s an absolute joke to even think of him competing against the modern, fast, high level CMs that are playing against us. Yep, you… Read more »

No foot Norbert

It seems every year at the start of a season arsenal fans forget how limited xhaka is. Build a team around a mid table player and you get mid table results. When xhaka plays we’re so focused on hiding his limitations it ruins our attack, problem is we have no other midfielders of much higher quality which is where a transfer is needed. A squad player at best – and he clearly doesn’t want to be here so how do you think that will affect his performances next season. Absolute mess again that seems unlikely to be sorted before the… Read more »

Qwaliteee

I suggested making KT the skipper months ago on here – and was told that it was ‘one for the future’ – it didn’t surprise me. We’re obsessed with the future to the detriment of what’s happening here and now.

It’s this perpetual ‘Jam Tomorrow’ attitude from certain sections of our fans that is one of the major reasons this club is in such a state. As a collective fan base we need to wake the fuck up and realise that we have a voice.

Man Manny

This team still needs a minimum of 3 first team signings if we are to have any realistic Hope’s of making top 4.
A right full back.
A creative midfielder.
A back-up keeper.

ThaatArsenalGuy

Excited for the new season . This is our year . The double is on

Pescetarian

it’s in the bag

Dodgem

Yeah why not! Up the Arsenal

Possession

I’ve just lost it…..so sad from a person who has been a paying supporter since 1966.

Martin R

So you really take a meaningless friendly so seriously. 🙈

Cechmate

If its meaningless, why did we even play? Why would someone bother writing an article? Why would you comment? It is significant, as it shows the mindset and tactics of MA & team. What was striking to me is that MA still doesn’t know his best 11 and his best formation. Last season, we saw a no of players played in diff positions – Saka played in 4-5 positions, Pepe in 2, ESR in 2-3 places, RB was shared by 3 players and so on. I expected him to be ready with his best 11 and formation by now, but… Read more »

Al alontos

They say our defense was the third best in the league last season. How about the attack?

Ben White was good today, but is he what Arsenal REALLY need?
I think we could have spent that money on a player that can improve us in the final third. Ben White may improve us more defensively, and we may still finish 10th if the attack is not properly sorted out.

Dom47

We had saliba, we splashed the cash for someone we didn’t need while other positions are more pressing… Tells you all you need to know about competence of edu and mikel.

Hakuna Matata

Saliba obviously isn’t favored by arteta as r our other center halves. Look at how much luiz was played despite his obvious weaknesses simply because he has superior ballplaying attributes, which are essential for artetaball. Give the guys a chance 2 mold a team in their own likeness

Hank Scorpio

Funnily enough while there’s the ‘it’s only in French football thing, Saliba has excellent distribution.

Hank Scorpio

Will he really improve us defensively? If we play a higher line maybe but in terms of defensive capabilities his stats are certainly no better than what we have. No cause to panic yet given it’s just friendlies but to me it seems like the difficulty moving players on in the current climate couples with Arteta seemingly being wedded to playing in a very specific way despite not having the players to do so are not a recipe for improvement. Odegaard is the player is the seemingly the preferred candidate for final third. If that’s the case, hopefully we can… Read more »

Cliff Bastin

He looks like a rare centre back with enough dribbling ability to beat the opponent’s press which is nice and all but the problem is we tend to do better against teams who press us anyway and struggle against parked buses which Ben White can’t help us with.

Dom47

Mikel out

Wolsty

Time will tell, probably by Christmas we’ll know either way…. the issue is for me if he goes who do we replace him with? My first choice would’ve been Rafa but he’s at Everton…. I’m hoping Arteta can prove me wrong, but we need re-enforcements sharpish.. GK, CM, AM, RB to start with… tick tock…

Merlin's Panini

I’m looking forward to seeing Saka back in an Arsenal shirt, but the main worry is still central midfield. Given Partey is injured now and Elneny just doesn’t do getting forward well or often enough, I would like to see Willock getting some starts as a number 8 with Xhaka more static. Unless Lokonga is totally ready to step in, that is. I think Willock has a good engine on him, he can be tenacious in the tackle, good at getting in the box, carries the ball well, and would be better than Xhaka at taking the ball from the… Read more »