Arsenal

Why Conor Coady got angry with Ben White as Mikel Arteta faces William Saliba transfer dilemma

The England international had an eventful night as Arsenal claimed a crucial 2-1 victory over Wolves in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium

If ever there was a game that encapsulated Benjamin White’s Arsenal career so far it was Thursday night’s clash with Wolves.

Things did not start well for the England international. While it was Gabriel’s misplaced early backpass to Aaron Ramsdale that put the visitors in front, White will feel he could have done more to block the South Korean’s path.

After such a poor beginning many would have written him off. Due to his babyfaced appearance and ability on the ball, the lazy assumption made about the Gunners’ number four is that he is someone who is naive to the game’s dark arts and unwilling to be up for the fight.

With two actions though Mikel Arteta’s £50 million man proved just how wrong that stereotype really is.

At this point we are all aware of how good White is in possession.

When speaking about why he chose to sign him from Brighton in the summer, Arteta revealed it was the ability that was the deciding factor.

“We bought him because he has that ability to break lines, to progress the ball the way we want it,” the Spanaird said in October.

“He has that composure and calmness to make the right decision.”

This was on full display against Wolves as the 24-year-old ended the game with 15 more carries than any of his teammates on the night (62 as per fbRef), of which an outstanding 11 where classified as progressive.

However, when outlining the reasons for bringing him to the Emirates Arteta did later go on to add that “first of all he needs to defend.” After a mediocre debut against Brentford, where he was bullied in the air by Ivan Toney, a media pile on led by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher in particular suggested that this was something he was going to be incapable of doing.

However, as Arsenal seek to transition into a side that operates higher up the pitch and closer to the opposition goal, White’s defensive instincts are actually what’s helping them get there.

Against Wolves, the England international managed a game-high five interceptions, of which three were in the opposition half, helping to keep up the relentless pressure on Bruno Lage’s side’s goal.

With those strings to his bow it would seem that the 24-year-old has all it takes to be the complete modern centre-half, and at the Emirates his lesser spoken about weapons were also on full display.

In the early part of the game, when the score was 1-0 to Wolves it appeared as though the visitors were about to counter attack, with Raul Jimenez sprinting away.

White however, intervened showing the dirtier side to his game with a cynical trip of the Mexican forward that was not spotted either by the referee or VAR.

Later in the game as Wolves then threatened to launch another counter by attempting to press high, the former Brighton man evaded a challenge from Conor Coady before flinging himself to the ground despite minimal contact.

This caused outrage from his England international teammate who had previously stated his displeasure at how much Arsenal had celebrated in the reverse fixtures at Molineux two weeks prior.

These kind of aspects show a street-wiseness to White’s game that makes him even more of an important part of this young Gunners side.

His performances and leadership skills have been so impressive that many are even considering him as a future captain for Mikel Arteta’s men. But while this is great news for him there is another Arsenal player for whom this creates a potential problem.

As the Gunners took a potentially crucial step towards next season’s Champions League in north London, nearly 3,000 miles away William Saliba was busy helping Marseille secure safe passage to the next round of the Europa Conference League with a comfortable victory over Qarabag in which Matteo Guendouzi scored.

football.london understands that the Frenchman is due to come back to the Emirates next season, and play a part. With Pablo Mari potentially on his way out of the club in the summer, it seems that a spot is now available to him.

However, one of Saliba’s biggest considerations has always been game time. At just 20-years-of-age he is desperate to play and develop, but with White impressing so much at right centre back, that could be made slightly more difficult.

Of course if Arsenal do finish in the Premier League’s top four then there will be more games available for him to play in, but the excellent form of both of his right sided young centre backs is creating a problem that Arteta will have to solve next season.

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