Stats Analysis between William Saliba and Arsenal-target Ben White

Comparing William Saliba and Ben White

The Athletic claimed that Arsenal are preparing a “concrete offer” for Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

Some supporters were apprehensive about the news, as they feared that might be the final nail on the coffin for William Saliba’s career at Arsenal. However, we did a piece in which we mentioned a lot of rational reasons as to why signing Ben White would be a good deal for all parties, including Saliba.

For this article, we compare the statistical numbers of both players. To look from a high-vantage point, White and Saliba can complement each other, as the Frenchman has been frequently played as a left centerback in France.

*we have looked at the statistics per 90 minutes because both have not played equal amount of games.


When it comes to who is more involved in a team’s play, Arsenal’s William Saliba is clearly ahead of White. The young Frenchman completed 66.55 passes per 90 minutes, with a Pass Completion rate of an impressive 92.6%.

While the Brighton man averaged 41.46 passes in match with a Pass Completion rate of 83.2%.

The 20-year-old centerback also completed 18.25 Short Passes, 35.40 Medium Passes and 12.65 Long Passes, which were one of the best numbers in the French league last season. His English counterpart was again trailing, with 13.74 Short Passes, 20.56 Medium Passes and 6.80 Long Passes.

But how many of those passes actually had a value in the final third? Saliba’s Key Passes/Passes into Final Third/Passes into Penalty Area metric was 0.10/4.55/0.10. His Key Passes and Passes into the Penalty Area figure was extremely poor, when compared to other centerbacks in the Ligue 1.

This is where Ben White was comparatively better than the former St. Etienne man. The 23-year-old figure was 0.23/3.13/0.56. His number of Passes into the Penalty Area placed him alongside one of the best centerbacks in the Premier League.

Maybe Mikel Arteta wants his centerbacks to have a decent contribution at the other end of the pitch, and that’s why he longs for White at the Emirates Stadium.

However, William Saliba showed his quality again when it came to passing when pressured. The French youth International averaged a figure of 7.20 per 90 minutes. Saliba has clearly shown maturity and calmness beyond his years.  When you consider that the 2020/21 campaign was just his third breakthrough campaign in men’s football, the feat is even more admirable.

The young defender also made 2.70 Switches per 90, which placed him in the top 10 percentile of defenders in France. While Ben White had underwhelming numbers yet again when compared to the Arsenal man. His figures of Passes under Pressure and Switches were at a lowly 4.43 and 1.21. According to Premier League standards, the numbers were below average.

Goal and Shot Creation

Ben White’s contribution at the other end of the pitch is what makes him an attractive player to have in one’s team. The England international’s number of Shot-Creating Actions/Goal-Creating Action/Defensive Actions that lead to a Shot Attempt were pretty good at 0.73/0.08/0.06.

Saliba was clearly way behind at 0.20/0.00/0.00. However, that may be due to how Brighton play under Graham Potter. The English coach has a default setup of 3-4-3, with White being deployed as a right centerback. With three defenders and a defensive midfielder, White had license to be more adventurous in his runs.

In a 4-2-3-1, which Arteta used occasionally last season, or a 4-3-3, where he wants his future team to play, that might not be possible. But still it is a quality which cannot be replicated by every centerback.

If Arsenal sign White, they can get a defender who has qualities of a good midfielder. Two players merged into one is the analogy we can come up with.


When it comes to ‘pure defending’ Saliba is still better than White. But the former Leeds’ man game is more rounded. The Brighton defender made 1.58 Tackles, 4.01 Successful Pressures (possession gained through pressure) and made 1.95 Blocks, which were excellent numbers last season.

Although Saliba (1.70) made more Interceptions than his counterpart (1.27) his figures of Tackles/Successful Pressures/Blocks stood at a lowly 0.60/2.20/1.40 per 90 minutes.

There is certainly room for improvement in the Frenchman’s game given his age. So, it should not be of a great worry.

Regardless of their inefficiencies, there is no doubt that both are extremely talented footballers. The return of William Saliba and the acquisition of Ben White appears exciting, and the duo certainly have the potential to change Arsenal’s current economy status into first-class.

If Arsenal are willing to pay in the 40-50m range for White, it certainly will mean that the transfer bag for this summer is heavy. The Gunners can even sweeten the deal by offering Eddie Nketiah or even Rob Holding, who can be a direct replacement for White at the Amex Stadium next season.

Whatever happens, at the end of the transfer window the London side can have three Brighton players in their squad in the form of Ben White, Yves Bissouma and Maty Ryan.

It is clear that many supporters won’t have any problems with their arrivals next season. And even if they don’t end up joining the North London outfit, there will be alternatives who would equally have the new toy luster.

What lies ahead is an exciting summer! Or at least that would be what the fans will be hoping for.

Yash Bisht

Tags ben white Saliba


  1. We have to consider that we will most probably revert to a 343 formation with 3 Center Backs.
    A center back 3 of Gabriel, White and Saliba looks good, then we need to sort out the RB/RWB starter position and the LB/LWB sub position.

    After that we need to be very maticulous when it comes to the CM pairings we get in.

    After that the CF position should be looked at last

  2. Well,to say the analysis is intriguing is saying the obvious.
    While I don’t have any ill feeling to buying Ben white, it will be foolish to lose saliva who I believe is a 100 million talent if well managed.
    Having both of them and shipping out those not good enough can be a blueprint for the future.

    1. Gabriel Holding Saliba Mari White (the latter being able to play rb and DM, probably the reason why we going for him) is enough, and will have to rotate them in a 3 def formation. Would like to see Partey Bissouma pairing for away games, and partey Aouar/sabitzer/whichever CM in home games..but who am i, Arteta could be looking for another CB

  3. Ben White should come in only if MA wants to play a 3-4-3 system, considering the data above, his contribution will be effective only in such a system. Also, the 3-4-3 system will accomodate both White and Saliba, because Arsenal cannot afford not to play Saliba, he is simply too talented to let go off. I dont know if spending around 50 million pounds for White is reasonable, considering we have urgent needs in the midfieled and back up LB.

    1. Let’s not draw up conclusions. Having three solid centrebacks in Gabriel, Saliba and White is not a big deal. Just look at other Premier League teams who finished in the top half. They have 3-4 good centerbacks

  4. Great article. Sadly, White is neither a freebie nor is he available on loan so I don’t see how exactly can Arsenal afford him.

    You guys do realize the club can buy only once they sell?

  5. Nice article!!
    But we should stop Rating players based on Statistics Only..passing, blocking,etc..
    Pepe came to us with ‘Awesome’ stats but became a Flop!!
    Same as Timo Werner n even Havertz of Chelsea!!
    Saying dis Bcos of someone who said Saliba is better dan Holding n Connor Coady!!
    Defenders who have faced Rashford, Kane, Calvert-Lewin, Sterling, Danny Ings, etc
    Saliba is better based on wat??

    1. Non of those players you mentioned are better than Mbappa and Neymar and he has faced them and did well against them. Our board should stop all this fraud they are unto. Must they spend that big money? Our defence came out 3rd best in the league. Doesn’t that count for anything?

      The place we need urgent upgrade is in the midfield. If we can get a good midfield to transition the ball to the front we will be fine. I am hoping they will be wise in their business this summer and not be foolish throwing money around.

    2. But atleast stats prove that they have the ability to do it @Vinnie2000. Let’s be patient with Saliba because he is still very young.

  6. Another point in the article..
    Is that Rob Holding should go to Brighton fc, then White should come to us!!
    If you say Rob Holding is perfect for Brighton, den he’s perfect for us Bcos it’s still Everton, Sotton, Newcastle, etc he will play against!!
    So he is going NOWHERE!!
    Same thing was said about AMN!! Dat he will be d perfect in Brighton’s midfield!!
    If so, he will be Perfect in our midfield too since it’s same EPL teams Arsenal n Brighton play against..
    I just hope Many here are not Full of Sentiments, Favouritism or Bias for certain Players!!

    1. I am not at all biased. I just gave an example that’s it. Arsenal can offer players to sweeten the deal. That was my main point.

    2. Ainsly should have been a great right back for arsenal today but his unprofessional presentation in the press has caused him his place in the arsenal team. Mikel should have put arm around his shoulder to assure him but i guess he didn’t.

      When you have a chance to play for a team like arsenal you grab your opportunity with both arms. I would still take him over Beller-in. He would have been a right back in the mould of walker with his pace and defensive ability. By now he would have mastered that position and mad it his own.

    3. It is normal that a player can fail in a team and succeed in another especially when the teams have different systems, coaches and targets. However much Arsenal has declined they don’t have the same targets as Brighton which fight against relegation. Few examples can justify what I am saying.
      1. How many chances has Willock got and failed to impress at arsenal and how many games it took him at New Castle to break the all-time record of Allan Shearer

      2. How long has Lingard spent at Man U without impressing the world and what has he done at Westham in such a very short period?

      I don’t want to mention Toress from Liverpool to Chelsea and Drinkwater from Leicester to Chelsea

  7. Given we had 3rd best defence I cannot see need for white. We are struggling for creativity and goal scoring

    1. I don’t agree with you. We definitely need better defenders. Our defense was good because we were in a low block almost every now and then.

      1. @Yash, and white is going to resolve that issue for us? Lol!. Nope,.we have better defenders at the club already, what is this obsession of Arsenal fans with buying British CBs when you can get much better quality for far lesser price outside. If you are not biased then not even a single British CB currently playing will make the EPL year team and neither in combined international European team forget about world team in top of that they are expensive as hell. No thanks we need to spend money on midfield for creativity.

      2. I agree with you on the fact that we were good defensively because we were almost always in a low block formation, but i disagree because it’s because with the fact that it was because our defenders were poor.

        Our low blocks have a lot to do with the lack of press from the midfield and attack. The manager have seen that these players can’t do it for 90 mins for he has to let them sit back for the most part of the game to sustain stamina.

        The resultant effect of this is the few amount of chances we created and on the other side of the pitch we conceded lower amount of goals. A good example is the game against City (2nd leg). We were just to scared to match them toe-to-toe.

        The solution would have been to bring in runners in the midfield who with suppost the attack in pressing. That’s why a Bissouma would have been a better fit that a Neves. Also we have to sell one of Auba or Laca and bring in Patson Daka. We will press better, create more chances and score more goals. This is my individual opinion though.

        This is not to say a Ben White will not improve us but then I see us selling either Mari or Holding, or even both to be left with a back 4 of White, Saliba, Gabriel, and Holding/Mari.

        I will gladly have the following line-up
        Martinelli/Pepe ESR/Fakir Saka/Nelson
        Partey/Wollock Bissouma/Azeez
        KT/new LB Gabriel/ Saliba/ Nikes/Chamber
        Mari White

  8. White another over priced and over hyped CB. No thanks, we have better options in current squad in form of Mari, Gabi and Saliba.

  9. “On pure defending Saliba is better than White”, a conclusion based on misleading stats. White plays in possibly the most intense league in the world filled with world class players and Saliba plays in the extremely weak French league, hardly equal to our second tier, apart from 2 or 3 teams, the rest are mediocre. The phrase “Lies, dammed lies and statistics” comes to mind.

  10. I dont see any reason as to why Arteta should keep Holding coz he has a poor statistics of all the defenders at Arsenal currently including Saliba and Mavro. A swoop deal including Holding+cash for White would be a good deal for both teams.

  11. These daft writers who are slaves to stats as being the be all and end all NEVER seem to realise that unless you are comparing like with like, meaning against the self same opponents and in the same league and at the same time, which are of course impossible, then stats ALONE are completely pointless!

    UNLESS OF COURSE your REAL agenda is not to seek the truth but just to get another article on JA to massge your ego. Stats like these are ridiculously pointless and plain unhelpful.

    Wise fans regard certain stats, when wisely used, as no more than one of the many factors we all need to PROPERLY judge any player. Dullards rely on stats alone and pretend they are the full answer. They are not and never will be.

    1. There is no point in being salty mate. I was just trying to tell the stats to the supporters. Highly rude of you tbh.

      1. Yes but saying one player is better than another in various aspects of the game based purely on statistics is poor analysis.

      2. Yash I made a validand necessary point and, just like you, I too wanted to give my opinion to supporters. Had your article been not so totally reliant on stats ALONE and had you instead used other factors to compare these two players, then I would not have needed to write as I did.

        IT IS IMPORTANT TO FIND REAL TRUTH and I have said on JA countless times – as have many other fans, among them notably Grandad – wiser fans do not slavishly rely ALONE on stats as you have done.

        This is an important point I make which I should not have needed to make to find the real TRUTH!
        To be clear Yash, I admire your passion and ability to write and have sometimes praised your articles But I seek only truth above all else and need to give my own TRUTH, as I perceive it.

        You would do well to reconsider your very obvious OVER reliance on stats( not merely in this article but in others too),IMO. Before the stats business became so common, astute coaches, scouts and managers were still able to recognise good from poor players. I know this, as I lived through decades of the pre -stat era.

        1. @jonfox it’s clear that you highly underestimate stats and numbers. I agree with you that stats don’t tell the whole picture. But they are more useful than many people think including you.
          Good of you for discouraging young writers like me. People like you won’t demotivate me.
          Cheers and have a good day.

          1. Yash, I am not here to encourage or discourage but to seek what is true from what is false. On stats we have polar differing opinions so no point arguing that any more. In my considered opinion what you write in this article is nonsense and that is my truth. If truth discourages you perhaps you might reconsider your life values and consider why hype and untruth appeal so much to you.

            The fact that you were first to appear on your own post to ask others opinions, a mere 15 mins after your article appeared, told me much. I LIKE YOUR PASSION A GREAT DEAL AND YOU CAN PUT WORDS TOGETHER WELL.


            As I said clearly, stats have a place but they are not the be all and end all. That is not dissing them but giving true perspective and context about where they rank in the complete process of judging players, which is also known as truth and NOT hype. Up to you if you wish to resconsider or not. It seems you have decided you will not.

        2. Astute coaches and scouts were able find good players but many of their choices ended up not performing. Just look at how many players clubs used to sign. Majority of them failed to reach the expectations.

          1. Yes, in other words, just the same as now, when stats are so plentifully used. WHICH RATHER MAKES MY POINT, ID SAY!

    2. You’re rude jon fox. Maturity demands you make your point without resulting to debasing language. Whatever merit your thoughts may have had are lost in your choice of nasty condescending language. Pfft.

  12. Arsenal’s attack is already being stifled by an over reliance on defensive formations and tactics.
    The way things are going Arsenal will end up with a goal keeper and 10 CB’s aiming for 0-0 draws, if luck is on their side.
    Yes, a sound defense is the basis of a successful team, but so is a strong spine with transition from defense to attack.

  13. My thinking for this season is that we should bring our own two loan defenders back and concentrate on er-enforcing the midfield and striking force plus the goal-keeping mess.

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