Arsenal just need a few slight tactical tweaks to take the title from Man City next season

A few tweaks needed... by Ben Dungate

Mikel Arteta received much praise for the way he got his Arsenal team playing last season, and rightly so. His use of the inverted fullback, which many other managers seemed to leap on and try to differing effect, was instrumental to the way the team set-up and played. But will it work again next season, and could it be modified to be even better? We have a talented crop of players at Arsenal, but it is the role of the persistently-overlooked for his nation, Ben White, that we will be centering on here.

Ben White is a talented boy, but what’s his best position? Maybe he doesn’t have one. Maybe he is destined to forever be the versatile one who gets moved around. There are those on one side who claim he isn’t a rightback, and those on the other that claim he is a centreback. Maybe he’s neither, or maybe he’s both. If we look at the way Pep utilised John Stones last year, we can easily envisage Ben White doing the same job for Arsenal. He’s, confident, calm on the ball, big, stronger, surprisingly fast, and a good defender. In my mind he is a natural fit for the role.
Oleks Zinchenko was much lauded for his contribution last season, but with the good comes the bad. On numerous occasions he was caught out of position, which led to Gabriel being stranded and us conceding needless goals at critical moments. If we compare the various physical attributes of OZ and White, it’s a no-brainer as to who will fair better when faced with those situations. Because Ben White is a natural defender, and less likely to get caught out, and when he does he is fast enough and stronger to recover, much more so than OZ.
I can see this slight shift in personnel reaping huge reward for the team, as it would allow Zinchenko to play in the role vacated by Xhaka, and dictate play higher up the pitch and take some defensive responsibility off him. With a couple of additions to the squad, and this slight tweak to the line-up, I believe Arsenal would be more solid, more creative, and therefore, more dangerous; we would dominate the centre of the pitch.
Imagine, if you will, a fit again Tomiyasu playing on the right side of a 3 man defense. Beside him William Saliba, and to the left of him Gabriel. A solid, big, fast back 3, that no striker is going to have an easy day with. In front of them Ben White, able to drop in alongside Saliba when required, and push into midfield alongside Thomas Partey when we are in possession. To Partey’s left Oleks Zinchenko, pushing into the final third and screaming at the moon at every misplaced pass or heavy touch. In front of them Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, and Jesus up front or occasionally left back, or wherever he chooses to be at that moment, but nominally up front.
Ben White is the partner Thomas Partey needs to allow him to do what he does better than any other DM in the Premier League: pass the ball. On his day, Thomas is imperious. Unplayable almost. But he can be overwhelmed and he shouldn’t be. He needs and deserves help, just as do all the other players.
I do not blame Zinchenko for any of the goals we conceded because ultimately, I don’t think he was the right man for the job. But he was very good.
And I think Ben White can be even better. Regardless of who we buy during the summer, I think Arsenal already possesses the players to replicate what they did last season and maybe push City right the way to the last day.
What do you think?
Ben Dungate
Tags Ben White Oleksandr Zinchenko Tomiyasu


  1. Yeah, I’d like to see Arteta come up with a different system to throw off teams from time, so I wouldn’t mind using the system you suggest. We were read a little better toward the end of the season and our left side was targeted with overlaps, we need more than one system and more personnel to combat this

    1. He should tell his defence to double up on wingers drifting in to our penalty area, like teams do to us. Not sure why we only risk a one on one each time it happens. Maybe Arsenal need a commanding defender to back orders, like a Tony Adams, John Terry or even the invicibles Martin Keown and men’s Lehmann to shout at them that they are not in the correct defensive position.

  2. Stones is more consistent than White in aerial duels, so Stones is more suited to the false-CB role than White

    I guess Rice would be assigned to that dynamic position, because he’s taller than White

    White played the hybrid right-CB/ RB role very well, so we’d better keep him there

    We just need to find someone cheaper than Rice, because Sky Sports reported that West Ham want £120m

    1. Agreed, that’s silly money. Rice is very good, but no player who does that job can command that sort of figure. I mean, what has Enzo done for Chelsea to deserve that price tag?

      1. Let Man City have overpriced fried Rice, because we could sign Zubimendi + Lavia + Vlahovic with that obscene amount of money

      2. Arsenal debe depurar la plantilla y vender sin miedo aquellos jugadores que no aportan, mercado hay para todos ellos en Europa,Mls.Mexico,o Arabia saudí..como Pepe,Holding,Tomiyasu,Runarsson,Tavares,Soarez,kiwior,Nketiay Mari..y que
        Arteta ,considere a los Jóvenes porque No? Balogun,Nwaneri,y alguna otra perla de la Academia ,agregando a nuevas contrataciones precisas..Tal vezRice,Caicedo,Fresneda,
        Haber,castagne, y alguna sorpresa de buen calibre que nos permita jugar ,competir y ganar los desafíos que Arteta ,plantilla y Nosotros en el apoyo tenemos apartir de Julio..sin Claudicar No renunciar a nada como la temporada regalamos todo y no ganamos Nada..Cierto ?🤔

  3. I would walk away from the Rice deal, as it looks messy and expensive. I would instead buy or bid for Fulhams defensive midfielder rated the best in the premiership, for £40 million. Get Caicedo to cover rightback and he can drop into midfield when we have possesion, for £75 million. Then get a world class defender Kim Min-iae, for £54 million, he is rated better than Saliba. Then offer Napoli £60 million plus Balogan for Victor Osimhen, who would play even better at Arsenal. Job done. Simple ( forget about Rice)

    1. If only it was that easy. Give up on Osimhen, that ain’t gonna happen. I agree with you about Rice though. Simply not worth that sort of investment in my eyes. Kim Min-iae could be a fantastic partner for Saliba but I doubt that will happen either and I just don’t think Caicedo is worth that sort of money.

  4. For £75 million, Caicedo as another unorthodox Fullback on the rightside. We will have a defence 4 when chasing the ball and a midfield 5 when in possession with 3 forwards. Nice! Also get the best DLC in the premiership, no not Rice, I mean Joao Palhinha for just £40 million. Then the world’s best defender for his release clause of £54 million, Kim Min-iae. Nice! Forget Rice.

    1. Most definitely, leave Rice to ever who’s willing to part away with £100 or £120m said to be his price tag.

  5. Ben White is tailor made as a right sided centre back in a back three where he shone for Brighton.However it appears that Arteta has no inclination to use such a set up, although his mentor has won the treble by effectively using a 3-4-3 system .In his years in Management Pep has sacrificed physical players for highly skilled ,smaller ball players who are adept at retaining possession and are highly intelligent and creative.It is therefore, somewhat ironic that he has resorted to physical power allied to skill to bring home the prized European Cup by including no fewer than five players who are all comfortable at centre back including the impressive Stones and Rhodri who played at the back for Spain in the World Cup.Arteta has shown a tendency to follow his mentor tactically and it will be interesting to see where he deploys White and Kwior next season.

    1. It’s a brilliant set-up really, you have to hand it to him. Defensive solidity with 5 big, strong, yet technically gifted players at the back in an M shape and 5 gifted, skillful players in a W at the top. A box of 4 in the middle to shut down the midfield and make them hard to play through and gives them that sense of having too many players because there’s very little space anywhere on the pitch. It’s brilliant. And with Ake and Akanji in those wide CB roles he has pace and power and size. It’s easy to see why Cancelo got moved on when you look at it now.

  6. Tweak or no tweak, if Arsenal add Declan Rice , Mosise Caicedo and Vlohovic, they will be a force the Citizens recognizes immediately.

    1. It will be Havertz plus a few promising youngsters again. Meanwhile we will be selling one of our prized goalscoring assets in Balogun for £40m to one of the Milan clubs.

  7. Think need a miracle to win the prem league million miles away don’t be fooled by the runners up spot the gulf is massive absolute miles away from challenging!

    1. Mark
      No mTyer how you look at it The table never lies come the end of the season
      In your opinion a million miles aWay which would have at least put us outside the top 4
      We are behind city like every other team in the league but we were closer to them then most
      Next season will tell us if it was a fluke or not but on the flip side teams looking up at us are trying to improve to catch us as well as city
      Is the glass half full or half empty?

  8. With respect Mark ,as far as I am concerned, finishing second is an indication that we have been challenging.There is a gap, but not the chasm you are suggesting.

  9. It would appear that fans are already resigned to not getting Rice judging by the ‘anyway he’s not that good’ comments here. The signing of Rice would have been a statement from Arsenal that we were supping at the top table at last, but no. This time I actually thought, having been stung by being beaten to Mudryk last summer, we were determined to get in quick with a proper offer this time, but once again we have been seduced by the media headlines such as ‘a deal is very close’ etc. etc. The usual faffing about by Arsenal will probably ensure the player goes to City, plus Caicedo will go to Chelsea, partly funded by Arsenal paying £70m for Havertz, a non-scoring striker.

  10. Jesus.

    Martinelli. Zinchenko. Odegaard. Saka.

    Partey. White.

    Gabriel. Saliba. Tomiyasu.


    It’s not a bad line up you have suggested though.

    Let us see the signings Arteta makes before we can get a better insight on how the tactical formations can fit.

    I am reading that we are seriously in for Havertz.
    I tend to wonder where and how Arteta wants to use him.

    Also if we put in a good bid for Declan Rice and get him that’s another role to consider on how they are to be played.

    1. If we do get Rice I’m very interested In how many saying he’s not good enough will change their minds ?

      1. He’s a great defender and has a crazy engine, but let’s not pretend he’s Busquets. His distribution is good but it isn’t as good as Partey’s.

  11. How did Rice reach this superstar status? I must have missed something the times I have seen him play because he didn’t stand out as something special. But what do I know? If we have made an £80m+ bid, withdraw it and let Chelsea spend crazy money. Use it to buy a PROPER striker which will give us the option of having a Plan B which we didn’t have last season. And btw Havertz, although talented, is not a striker as his performances for Chelsea have shown.

    As for the next season, if we replicate last season’s performance we’ll have done well. The opposition will not only come from City I expect pressure from Chelsea, Man U, Newcastle, Liverpool and even Tottenham – they all have a point to prove.

  12. Basically a Guardiola end of the season tactics. Yeah, it would sound innovative if it’s not copycat. Ben White is everything you mentioned but I don’t think he can play the nucleus. Anything around the perimeter like CB, RCB, RB and RWB suits him. Technically he is good but not as good tactically like Zinchenko. I’m sure Mikel Arteta got something new celebratory ideas in his sleeves once he gets thru the transfer window.

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