Arsenal fans will enjoy the elegance and rare ability of Ben White

Ben White’s “Elegance” Will Help Us.

In a previous article, I discussed the duality of football: scientific at heart and self-presenting as art. While fans were enamoured with Ronaldinho Gaucho’s mesmerizing, limbic control of the ball, close observers would see a very agile dribbler who happens to be 6ft tall and can explode into critical angles without losing his balance like a shorter, stouter player.

Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane was like two Iniestas stacked on top of one another, a 6ft tall cold-blooded Frenchman moving elegantly like a gentle wind. And then there was Kaka: meaner, stiffer, and more explosive. Kaka could run in a straight line through the middle of the pitch, athletes bouncing off him like rag dolls. He was a bullet, and he was meant to kill.

All of these players were delightful to fans and all of these players, for different reasons, were who they were. These reasons can be explained by physiologists. Who cares? We just want to watch football.

Enter Ben White.

Ben White has been notably described by fans across the section as a ‘Rolls-Royce’ centerback. The way he touches the ball, the swift length of his legs, the caressing punts that puts the ball wherever he wants — fans want to see that. Fans love to see that: a player with an immaculate control of the ball. Where fans see a central defender easy on the eye, coaches see a player who can help them control and determine the rhythm of a game. From finding advanced midfielders between the lines to breaking a press by dribbling, the quintessential modern centerback is important to the playing scheme of the best teams in the world.


Instead of treating the ball like a hot potato, defenders like Ben White treat the ball like a son, an extension of them. The ball, in return, loves them back. Ben White is one of the most elegant defenders in the modern game. His passing and ball-carrying ability are of a very high level such that Marco Bielsa, who famously wants to play with 11 midfielders, was ready to break the budget for him after having him on loan for a season.


Mikel Arteta’s scheme, similar to the best clubs in the world, is heavily reliant on controlled possession and building play from the back. Last season, we witnessed a few self-inflicted calamities when we tried to play out from the back. In fact, it was an eyesore at times. But when it worked, like against Manchester City in the FA Cup or against Liverpool in the Community Shield, it worked like magic: we almost always score.

Tilting the spectrum from eyesore to magic, from Stoke City to Man City, is why we got Ben White for a premium price. His ball-playing abilities are rare and needed for the game we want to play, for the future we want to reach. His so-called elegance is a tactical weapon.

And he is now an Arsenal player…

Agboola  Israel


  1. Scott says:

    Top class assessment, I think he is what we’ve needed for a very long time. He is also a future captain and I believe a defender should always be captain.

  2. Sokie says:

    Interesting read! Very poetic

    1. Durand says:

      Imagine if we had gotten a midfielder like that instead of another CB. Isn’t this Arteta’s 3rd CB in under 2 years?

      Can’t wait for the 8-1-1 formation to lead us back to the CL and challenge for the title aye?

      1. Ozziegunner says:

        Durand, your formation is possible, if not probable, given the lack of midfielders to progress the ball. The only way left will be to hoof the ball forward and hope the ball is won by the lone striker. There is no midfielder to progress the ball into the final third and either score themselves or provide assists. Last season Arsenal scored a total of 55 goals from a forward line of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Willian, Pepe, Saka, Martinelli, Ballogen, Nheketia and ESR. The forward line is not the problem, the midfield is.

      2. Logic says:

        Hahahaha…Durand nice one.

  3. RFrancis says:

    We are in the midst of an accident, we are tumbling fast downhill, trying to find a safe place to land; and you are now telling us to enjoy the scenery, enjoy the view, enjoy the ride.
    AI, are you sure Arteta didn’t write this article?
    Next time, be more direct. Just tell us to enjoy and trust the process.

    1. The-Real-Vieira-Lynn-4ever says:

      No doubt RF…the author might have been well-intentioned, but for the love of god read the room…we appear to be on a runaway train that just might go careening off the edge of a cliff, whereas the author wants us to believe that we’re on a monorail approaching the gates of the Magic Kingdom…no blinders for me thanks

      1. RFrancis says:

        If I could just borrow your quote: this is better than “amateur hour at the Emirates.”

        1. The-Real-Vieira-Lynn-4ever says:

          RF, you must of have really got under his skin, as this guy’s usual response techniques rely on a soft opening, with a verbal caress or two, followed quickly by a sometimes confusing yet unmistakably scathing rebuke…when this happens you know you’re on the right track…keep it up

    2. guy says:

      Why not burn all books at the same time RF? It’s a nice piece, well written, about a very good player. It doesn’t say everything is rosy at Arsenal now, just that this transfer at least is a step in the right direction. Agboola is talking about one person, and giving his opinion of how important he could be. And I happen to agree.
      Can you not just accept it for what it is, or do you only welcome negative articles?

  4. Jah son says:

    And this is why I say the fans are so divided that only a very good start to the season can see Arteta through September. The football just got to be more attractive.

    1. Durand says:

      Ha surely you jest.

      Arteta playing attractive football, good one.

      Better luck finding a snake with feet, lobsters with wings, and Jose’ M. with manners and courtesy.

      More likely Arteta discovers time travel or cure for Covid than scheme up attractive football.

      Maybe our checkbook manager could buy it with enough Kronke money.

      1. Durand says:

        Forgot to mention, in every parallel universe Arteta still plays negative football.

        I checked, trust the process.

        Victory through harmony soon to be replaced with “trust the process”

  5. fairfan says:

    White does “sound” like a fantastic buy.
    What puzzles me is how we don’t seem capable of producing any CB’s of our own.
    Who was the last academy centre back to play significant seasons for Arsenal?
    Tony Adams 40 years ago?
    Arsenal seem to have no interest in developing centre backs.
    Arsenal instead prefer to develop ealier developing attacking African descent players like Niles Nketiah Willock Nelson Balogun Azeez Saka.
    Young centre backs are apparently too risky to give playing time as a defensive mistake may lead to a goal whereas a mistake by a young attacker is usually less costly.
    So Bielik Mavropanos Saliba are sent out on loan.
    So we continue to buy ready made CB’s.
    Mustafi Socritis Luiz Mari Gabriel Paulista Gabrial Magalhaes Vermaelen Merteacker Koscielny Holding Chambers Toure Sqillaci Djourou Senderos Cygan Campbell.
    Yet only 4 of 17 Mertesacker Koscielny Toure +Campbell were any good and some were plain awful.
    Cheque book management it is then.

    1. guy says:

      Agree fairfan – been curious about our dearth of decent homegrown CBs for many seasons. I don’t think its simply that they aren’t given a chance – if you read about the Colney stars, the CBs never get great reviews. Definitely missing a trick in this area.

      1. Ozziegunner says:

        As well Ballard (loan), McGuiness (sold?), Rekik, Kirk current CB’s

  6. VasC says:

    As expected, artificial intelligence to our management’s rescue, especially when they desperately need something to mask our loss against our neighbours.

    What a Rolls Royce of a defensive header to almost assist Son to score on the volley. And a Rolls Royce tracking ability when Moura zipped past and set-up Son with a simple toe-poke which hit the post.

    Waxing lyrical about a player who has done absolutely nothing in an Arsenal shirt while beating down Willock with the same stick.

    1. Yossarian says:

      I totally get signing Ben White and it will hopefully work out as planned. However in order to get the best from him, and have a good flow through the spine of the team, a good quality addition is needed in midfield. There are too many players that Arsenal held on to for too long and now can’t cash-in on effectively, or even can’t sell at all. Therefore if selling Willock now facilitates getting that much needed quality addition in midfield, then that’s all good.

      1. Sue says:

        Spot on, Yossarian

      2. guy says:

        Agree Yoss. White looks great, but alone his effect will be minimal.

        1. SueP says:

          All good points guy and Yossarian

      3. Ozziegunner says:

        What if Willock is sacrificed to make the payment for White, not an upgraded CAM?

        1. VasC says:

          There’s only one thing to do for all Arsenal fans this summer and possibly the entire season or two. That is,

          Trust the PROCESS!!!


  7. Biscuitbum says:

    Almost the last time I saw a new player make an instant impact like Ben white, was when Patrick Vieira played his first game. This guy is going to be an absolute star.

    1. Reggie says:

      But he hasn’t played his first game yet!!!!!!!

      1. Durand says:

        Just don’t question anything Reggie.

        Fans are supposed to close their eyes and follow, forget standards and accountability unless it’s referring to players.

        We’re “Arteta FC” now get it? Manager before club, just blindly follow if you’re “fan.”

        1. Dan kit says:

          Biscuitbum @
          While white looked good on the ball he was also guilty of ball watching twice with the deli and son chances which could have seen us go 2 down but for a smart save and a post .
          Way over the top In your assessment of Ben white .

          1. VasC says:

            Ben White was recruited exclusively for playing out from the back. So, somebody wins the ball and pass it to him. Until then, ball watching is one of the things he can do to keep himself busy on the pitch.

        2. Ozziegunner says:

          Durand and this is why journalists or ex players, who ask the wrong questions, are “persona non gratis” at Arsenal press conferences or on match days. Follow the corporate line while the Club goes down the gutter.

  8. Reggie says:

    Looking forward to seeing him in his first game. Not long now.

  9. Joe. S says:

    Not a bad write up before a ball was even kicked against the Spuds. You would have thought we have just signed the new Baresi, rather than a decent player who nobody really noticed much when playing for Brighton. I don’t rate pre season much but anything Arteta does or says these days, smells of mediocrity.

  10. gunnerforlife says:

    We lost to the damned Spuds, horrible, horrible, should have atleast drawn…Where is the writer wanting us to go, wonderland/Artetaland…

    1. Sue says:


  11. Laurie says:

    After 18 months in charge he still doesn’t have any idea what is starting 11 is , he is still experiment 🤔 with tactics and formation the players look brain dead, in is interviews it’s like he’s talking in parables no straight answers. I can’t believe he’s still starting with abuma & laca .
    God help 🙏 us

    1. Sue says:

      Don’t fret just yet, Laurie, 22 days of the window left. We’ll see what MA/Edu have up their sleeve shortly..

      1. Declan says:

        I hoped it would be Martinez but seems he is on his way to spurs!

        1. Sue says:

          I’m hoping it won’t be just Ramsdale/Abraham, Declan! 🙏

      2. DaJuhi says:


        Deja vu? Every summer its the same.

        “Still *insert amount of days* left in the window”

        And how do those windows end up? Us not buying enough. Every summer, always the same result. This window won’t be different.

        We will get ONE player at max, a complete, overpaid panic buy. Watch the space. Its like clockwork. Every summer many fans see the areas we are lacking quality and every summer Arsenal covers maybe 1/5 of those areas, but never enough.

        1. Laurie says:

          Panic buying season has just begun

        2. Sue says:

          I can’t really argue with that, DaJuhi.

    2. Ozziegunner says:

      Laurie, Arteta’s communication is supposed to be better than Emery’s; however what does he actually say or tell us?

  12. A J says:

    Citing the fact a player has not played x minutes in the shirt yet, therefore an opinion cannot be formed is quite ridiculous.

    Every single player signed throughout history has to don the shirt for the first time and debut -but early impressions cannot be voiced ????

    By the way …. ASL looks very good.

    There’s an opinion formed after x minutes in an Arsenal shirt !

    Who knew of Henry & Vieira, a certain Dennis Bergkamp was doubted for the first few weeks after arrival (just a few obvious examples).

    Ben White (in my opinion, and bothering to garner info’ on him from both Brighton & Leeds fans) looks a class act, and a very good signing.

    One thing I will say, aerially at the back remains a concern for me.

    So the right balance has to be struck.

    As for the the positional (priority) debate.

    A fool could see we have other pressing issues (if Leno gets injured ??)

    But no two deals are the same.

    Transfers in can’t necessarily be done in order 1,2,3 & 4 – it doesn’t work like that.

    We got White, ASL & Taveres over the line.

    Surely to God we are working on at least a couple more that for some reason are taking longer – probably down to us *issing about !!

    Last year we were all over Aouar.

    However, due to the now Maddison fanaticism a potential deal for Aouar (at half price) is seemingly sitting there begging to be done, and he’ll end up at Spuds or Juve.

    I’m not saying Aouar is necessarily one of the answers, but is a prime example of what the hell is going on – we were begging last year – loss of form, injury or us being all over the place ….again !

    Folk are disagreeing over the workings of a club who’s transfer dealings are shambolic, scatter gun, seem to lack any form of having a template and all over the bloody place.

    The days of “we are the Arsenal, players will walk over hot coals to join us” have long gone !

    We have to get in there with intent and conviction to land those we have targeted and “plug those obvious holes”.

    But can we “sell to buy” – like hell we can ?

    Again it seems we will wait until late on the 31st, “hoping” sides will drop their prices and see what we can scratch around for – a plan ???

    Please let “something” happen this week 1

    Charity shops are run better !

  13. Phoenix Gunner says:

    Saliba oh saliba what a player. He was an absolute monster bossing the opposition attack yesterday.
    I still can’t get round it why arteta didn’t give that youngster a chance during preseason to prove himself.
    No matter the outcome of this season saliba must be integrated into the team next season at all cost.

    1. A J says:

      Interesting PG.

      What was his ball playing into the middle of the park like (through the lines) ?

      First job – defending full stop, but what was the speed of his transitional play in possession as this was one of the main criteria in bringing B W in.

      1. Phoenix Gunner says:

        Defenders number one duty is defending,all other things is secondary. If it was down to me I pick saliba over Ben white all day.

        1. A J says:

          ” Defenders number one duty is defending,all other things is secondary. ”

          Not in M A eye’s.

    2. Liam says:

      Are you having a laugh he lost 4 out of the 5 duels he went for and they conceded twice against a poor montpellier

  14. Pirate Dandy says:

    Amazing article. I don’t get why some people don’t rate Ben.

    Him, Trossard, and Bissouma were the reason I used to watch Brighton last season.

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