Mikel Arteta says he takes great heart from the leadership shown by some of his young players at Anfield and has singled out Ben White for praise following the defender’s man-of-the-match performance.
Despite playing with 10 men for the majority of the game, the Gunners backline, ably assisted by a ragtag midfield, held firm to secure a clean sheet on a night when they restricted the home side to a solitary shot on target.
Ahead of the north London derby, which could still be postponed, Arteta reflected: “Yesterday we had to play an extremely difficult match, 70 minutes with 10 men, but I saw a lot of leadership on that pitch from very young players and that gives me a lot of encouragement because they understood what was needed.
“They were up for the challenge and they showed a real fight and resilience to do what they did.”
On what his squad can take from such a hard-fought result, one that leaves the Carabao Cup semi-final on a knife-edge, he added: “Well it certainly gives them the experience that they are able to do that.
“That resilience to do what they did last night is based on your spirit, your belief and the fact that you’re never going to give up, and take on any challenge that is facing you – and do you best.
“Sometimes you have to still extend that and against the team that we played last night, that was necessary and most of the players did it.”
As for White’s contribution, which included three tackles, three blocked shots, three interceptions and seven clearances, the boss said: “He is one of them that I would certainly apply the words that I’ve just mentioned to his performance.
“He’s not Tony [Adams] and he cannot be Tony. He’s just moved to our club and he’s just been here just for a few months but he has something and he wants to do it. He’s very demanding with himself, he’s really willing to learn and improve his game and he’s in the right place.”
That White has gelled so quickly with centre-back partner Gabriel, is an added bonus.
“In terms of the qualities that I saw in him and what is required for us to try to recruit somebody like him with his qualities, it was clear,” said Arteta.
“Then those personalities as well, that chemistry has to exist. We can see they really enjoy playing together, you can see that, that chemistry is there and that’s a massive extra when you are looking to build something at the back.”