Arsenal currently sit at the 11th position in the Premier League table. Despite the mediocre start to the season, there is a sense of positivity surrounding Arsenal after a long time. Arsenal supporters and experts alike have liked Arteta’s ideas and the performances of the team in recent times. This wave of support for Arteta is mainly due to Arsenal’s rock-solid defense. In this article, we will take a look at how the pairing of Ben White and Gabriel has impacted Arsenal’s fortunes.
Since the September international break, Arsenal have played five games and kept four clean sheets. This is in sharp contrast to the nine goals they conceded in just four games in August. The recent improvement in defense is mainly due to the center-back pairing of Ben White and Gabriel. They have conceded just one goal when they have started together.
Qualities of White and Gabriel
The pairing of Ben White and Gabriel at the center of defense perfectly suits modern football’s demands. As his passing stats clearly indicate, White is adept with the ball at his feet. White does not possess the physical attributes of someone like Van Dijk, but he is a smart defender and cannot be bullied easily. He is also essential for Arteta’s hopes of creating a team that can build from the back and play through the press.
On the other hand, Gabriel is an old-school defender in many ways. He is someone who will toil hard on the pitch and is always ready to make crunching tackles. Gabriel did not have the easiest of beginnings at Arsenal but he is slowly becoming a vital cog.
Gabriel and White’s impact
The North London Derby which Arsenal won 3-0 is further proof of the importance of Ben White and Gabriel. Two of Arsenal’s three goals in that fixture came courtesy of neat build-up play from the back. Arsenal repeatedly tried in vain to create something similar last season, but they lacked the defensive personnel to do so. But this season, the pairing of Ben White and Gabriel is working in sync with Ramsdale’s movement to attract opposition forwards, thus creating spaces to move the ball forward efficiently.
Kieran Tierney was Arsenal’s best player last season, but he had to constantly check his attacking runs due to a lack of faith in the central defenders. But White and Gabriel are allowing him to venture further upward on the left flank, thus creating more options in attack. It is still only October, but if Arsenal are to improve this season, White and Gabriel will be indispensable.