Sunday, May 19, 2024

“It’s an option” – Arteta open to using White in midfield

Kolo Toure, Johan Djourou, Thomas Vermaelen, Calum Chambers…over the years there has always been a clamour from some quarters to stick a ball-playing centre-back in the heart of the action when Arsenal have been short of numbers in midfield. 

Short-lived experiments have taken place – Toure started life as a utility player before moving back to defence and Emery flirted with using Chambers higher up the pitch – but by and large, the calls have fallen on deaf ears. 

But what about Benjamin White, could the 23-year-old be a short-term answer to Arsenal’s midfield issues if Covid, injury and AFCON-related absentees continue through until February? After all, the £50 million summer signing arrived at the Emirates with a CV burnished with midfield experience at both Leeds and Brighton

“It’s an option that we have,” said Arteta ahead of his side’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg with Liverpool. 

“He’s played there [midfield] before, as a central defender, he’s played as a right-back, as part of a three. That’s one of the positive things with Ben[jamin], that he has the capacity to play in different roles.”

For what it’s worth, we doubt it’ll happen unless there’s an in-game emergency (red card, injury, etc.). 

For the time being, the club is attempting to solve its issues in the transfer market. Interestingly, having spent the close season proactively recruiting players under the age of 24, it’s not gone unnoticed that some of the names linked this month have more experience. For example, Juventus’ midfielder Arthur – tipped to make a loan move – is 25 and a full international with Brazil. 

Pressed on whether Arsenal remain focused on signing up-and-coming talent, Arteta said: “The project has different phases and in each phase, we have to accomplish certain targets and objectives. 

“When you start to remodel the squad into a much healthier position, that’s the moment you can evolve and start to make other decisions in relation to a lot of things that have happened, it’s not just the intention, it’s about what happens with many other players.”

It stands to reason that if Bernd Leno, Mo Elneny, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Sead Kolasinac, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin and Alex Lacazette leave in the summer, Arsenal may well look for a couple of older heads to balance the squad profile. While young players are exciting, we also know experience still counts at key moments of the season. 

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How’s Hector doing?

David Hillier's luggage

After the own goal and last man red in Nov, he’s playing well apparently. Good assist at the weekend.

A Different George

MOTM according to WhoScored in at least one recent game. And Real Betis, somewhat surprisingly, stands third.


Of all the names being touted, the most exciting for me is Arthur Melo. Of course we need a striker and a better squad player at RB, but I think it’s our midfield that is still not right. Arthur is technically great and super tenacious. He never clicked with the team at Barca despite everyone praising him and apparently has some problems with the coach at Juve. He seems available and affordable.


Completely agree. He looked like he’d be at Barca for a decade when he broke in as the heir to Xavi. Super classy and pretty two-footed from what I remember.

But for some reason he seems to have become an expensive pawn a highly corrupt creative accounting scheme. And he’s lost his way.

These were the sort of deals we used to do, very talented distressed assets on the cheap. The one question is the physicality of this league, but at 25yrs old he’s a no-brainer.

Zadok the Regular Priest

Arthur’s one of those where you think “there’s a good player in there”, but the question is whether he can find it again. I read he had some off-the-field issues even while he was at Barca, so I do question whether he’s one of those who’s lost his love for the game a little. I’ve not followed him since he’s gone to Juventus but just judging from his YouTube highlights he looks less fit than he did at Barca, and keen on a sideways pass – which combined with the fact that he’s not been playing in a not-very-good Juventus… Read more »


How can you miss David Luiz from that list! Don’t have a problem with White playing in midfield in principle, but it does raise further questions regarding the wisdom of letting AMN go while Partey and Elneny were still away for AFCON. If AMN wanted to play, well, surely he could have played for us right now.


The reason AMN was let go is twofold: 1) Roma wanted him now or no deal. 2) Arteta just doesn’t trust him in midfield and would prefer other solutions.


I think Arteta acknowledges that AMN needs regular game time which made the loan decision easier to make.

I’m curious as to whether he is seen as a bit of a luxury player for us at the moment given we need the midfield to really click and keep things moving?


1) Maybe we should have said no deal, and kept him until the summer? In the meanwhile he’d be playing now and would be able to stake his place
2) Surely he trusts him more than Patino!


I don’t disagree. I actually believe AMN could have been given many more opportunities in midfield. I’m just trying to rationalize what Arteta has done.


I would like to apologise for a mistake I made in my original post. I referred to one “Thomas Partey” when in fact I really should have said Thomas Work Event Definitely Not A Party. Again, I would like to apologise for the hurt caused and for any misunderstanding.

Diaby's Left Peg

Will you be offering your resignation Mr Cannon?


Mr Peg, I will await the conclusion of the AFCON report before deciding whether or not I did the thing that I did, and I hope you also will wait until the end of that investigation before drawing conclusions about the thing that I definitely did…


I tend to recoil at the suggestion of moving players from defense to midfield. Can think of almost noone in the modern era that made it work- a case could be made for Phillip Lahm, but he was still much better at RB until he lost his pace. Sure I’m forgetting people but by and large, doesn’t go well. I wasn’t actually aware White had played there for Leeds/ Brighton though; anyone know how he did? If we still hold hope of Saliba returning and becoming the player that some clearly think he could be, this in theory could be… Read more »


Emmanuel Petit


Really, where was he a defender? I didn’t know that (though was a young kid when he left..), but just had a poke around online and everywhere just says he was moved around midfield in various roles. Did he play in defence for us?


Not for us, Arsene Wenger played him in central midfield right away – he was left back at his previous club Monaco


When France won the World Cup, Petit became an emergency centre-back against Brazil, after a sending off, and played there very well. And even had the presence of mind to sprint out of defence on a breakaway to score France’s third goal, assisted by Vieira. This prompted the headline in the Daily Mirror “Arsenal wins the world cup”.


What about Calum Chambers? He played in midfield when he was on loan at Fulham and did quite well by all accounts.


He was their player of the season at DM. But they went down, so not much of a season I suppose.


I just hope Arteta plays his strongest side tonight. A trophy is up for grabs now and we don’t have the distractions of Europe or the FA Cup. Let’s worry about the spuds game tomorrow morning.


We have more players out than when Liverpool managed to cancel last week. They have all their players back now. How can that be right?

Tomiyasu, Smith-Rowe, Odegaard and possibly Xhaka? Now playing defenders in midfield.

Guns Up

It’s certainly not right, and the moral high ground doesn’t win trophies, but I’d still rather be on the Arsenal side of that whole conversation. I’ll also be waiting patiently for the Spurs fine for failure to control players after the Rudiger tackle yesterday…

A Different George

Well, except Salah and Sane.


It’s tempting but Id prefer to keep the back four as consistent as possible. He has a great chemistry with Gabriel and Tomi.


I agree. Anytime such tinkering was successful it had to be final. When Wenger put Petit in midfield that became his permanent position.

Cranky Colin

Why never use Chambers in that role?
I mean we’re in a bit of bother there, and surely he did well for Fulham when on loan there in that position?

Cranky Colin

And then again, this tells us how tight we are for class players.
You move White up there, and you bring Holding/ Mari/ Chambo, into the CB picture, and with all due respects………………




It could have been [edict]

Nick Mason

I look forward to the day when so many of you start praising Arteta for what he has bought to this club. I think the guy is class and I hope he’s there for many years to come.

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