He might be out in the cold on the England front, but Ben White’s start to life at Arsenal continues to impress manager Mikel Arteta.
While critics rounded on the defender for an angsty debut against Brentford, the 23-year-old has looked very tidy in his three subsequent appearances alongside centre-back partner Gabriel and full-backs Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney.
Three wins and two clean sheets certainly bode well ahead of a return to former club Brighton this weekend.
Facing the media ahead of the trip to the AMEX, Arteta said: “I’ve been very impressed with how he handles the pressure, how he handles the situation of coming through the Euros, us paying a big fee and the composure and the calmness he shows.
“As well, the willingness to learn, to improve. He realises he’s still very young, in the developmental process and there are things that he can achieve. We’re all really enjoying him together and have to continue like that.”
Asked whether White and Gabriel are firmly ensconced as his preferred centre-back partnership, Arteta said: “They played really well at the weekend [against Sp*rs], their understanding is getting better.
“The cohesion between the back four is getting better, the more they play they will keep improving. We have different partnerships that can work but certainly, they did well at the weekend.”
While Arsenal completed the double over Brighton last season, the Seagulls have proved tricky opponents in recent seasons and come into the latest showdown just one point off the top of the table.
Understandably, after the high of victory in the north London derby, Arteta wants his players to be on guard.
“They will be a really difficult game,” said the manager. “They’ve been on a really good run, they are playing well and getting the results that they deserve. It’s a really competitive match ahead and we know the importance of it.
On taking heart from last season’s wins, he added: “That’s a different season, different momentums. We should not focus on that just focus on how we’re going to get prepared to have the best possible performance and how we’re going to win the game.”