Mikel Arteta says he’s pleased with the way Ben White has settled at Arsenal but admits the defender faces a tough challenge at Burnley on Saturday.
Signed in the summer for £50 million from Brighton, the 23-year-old has experienced a disjointed start to life at the Emirates with a shaky debut followed by a positive Covid-19 diagnosis which ruled him out of matches against Chelsea and Manchester City.
Given the focus on the manager and the Gunners other new faces, his return to the lineup against Norwich flew under the radar a little. A clean sheet certainly helped, but rest assured, the microscopes will be out again at
the Hawthorns Turf Moor as the England international faces Sean Dyche’s Bash Brothers; Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes.
Asked how White will cope with the physical and aerial style favoured by the Clarets, Arteta said: “He needs to play his game. I fully trust him.
“He knows what he’s going to face and not just him, every defender against any opponent in the Premier League, you’re going to be exposed. He needs to do what he’s good at and the things he can improve, improve them.
“When you jump against Wood, 10 times in the air with a ball flying every time in the air, it’s pretty difficult to win every duel to be fair. So it’s about that duel and what happens around him as well.”
Overall, Arteta has been impressed with the way White is handling his new surroundings.
“I think he’s coping really well,” said the Spaniard, “I don’t see any stress or him trying to act in a different way or to do things that he doesn’t need to do.
“I think he’s adapted incredibly well to our way of playing, to the boys and to what this club is all about. I’m very pleased with him.”
As Arsenal supporters, we’re programmed these days to fear the worst when up against sides who are (a) good or (b) shit but massive lumps. It’s going to take some time for the current crop of players to change that but it’s not like we’re completely devoid of lads capable of putting themselves about a bit.
Brazillian Gabriel is no shrinking violet and new boy Takehiro Tomiyasu has already shown his willingness to fly into a challenge. An alert midfield eager to win second balls will also be vital; something Everton demonstrated for their third goal against Burnley on Monday night. Not kicking the ball against Chris Wood inside our own six-yard box would also be a sign of progress.