Ben White says he’s honoured to play alongside Takehiro Tomiyasu and labelled the right-back the best he’s played alongside.
Given White is only 23 and has previously played for Brighton, Leeds, Peterborough and Newport County, that could be seen as a backhanded compliment but he went on to claim the Japan international is “world-class” at the basics.
White and Tomi have formed a very decent partnership on the right side of Arsenal defence since they arrived in the summer and the latter was sorely missed when he sat out yesterday’s defeat to Nottingham Forest with a tight calf.
“Tomi is amazing,” White told DAZN Japan. “He’s the best right-back I’ve ever played with. He’s always focused. It’s an honour to play next to him.
“Tomi does the simple things at a world-class level. He is very alert and he isn’t careless in games.
“From the beginning, he’s completely understood English and speaks as well as I do.”
White also backed up Tomiyasu’s explanation – proffered in December – as to why he doesn’t often pass to the right-back during matches.
“I read the article about me not passing to Tomi,” said White. “If you aren’t familiar with football you might not understand but opponents target passes to the right-back when they press.
“If I play the ball to Tomi he will be targeted and he might be in a situation where he has no options.
“It’s not that I don’t want to pass to Tomi but it is the best way to build up our play so that it leads to the final third.”
Tomiyasu, who has a self-written column in the sports section of homeland newspaper Nishi Nippon, had originally explained: “It is because Ben White is a good player. Often, passes from the centre back to the full-backs become ‘pressure passes’.
“I play centre back too, and simple passes to the full-backs are actually the last option I consider. If the full-back is not under opposition pressure I will play the pass, but if the winger is right in front, you’ll end up caught by the press.
“So Ben White is a good player who doesn’t play passes that put you under pressure.”
Last night, Mikel Arteta said he’s still waiting to find out if Tomiyasu will be available for Thursday’s trip to Anfield for the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.