Arteta may Finally Have His Perfect Trio in Defence

Our central defence is starting to take shape and early signs are very promising. With Tierney and Tomiyasu we have two tenacious full/wing backs who can both defend well and be a great support to our CBs and GK.

But this short post is about the all important triangle of GK-2CBs.

Ramsdale: a very dynamic, extrovert goalkeeper with great leadership skills. I called him ‘obsessed with excellence’ in the previous post and he loves nothing more than a house full of clean sheets. His aerial control is an improvement on Bernd and his shot stopping is looking promising too. But his biggest attribute is his quick and accurate passing game. Passing out from the back successfully is about accuracy and speed of thinking and acting, and we have been far too slow in that department in recent seasons. Aaron gives us that all important extra second of speed.

Ben White: after a bit of a rough start, Ben is settling in well. It’s early days but he seems to offer calm and organisational skills to the defence. Much more of an introvert than Aaron, White has a calming, very focused impact on the team, it seems. Aaron brings energy and action-focus and Ben brings calm and organisational-focus. This is a great combination! Did you see White asking Ramsdale to not be too hard on the central midfielders at some point in the second half v Spuds? It was a great and promising moment of getting the balance right in defence. White is also vital in moving from defence to midfield/attack in a jiffy. Like Ramsdale, Ben gives us an extra second with his quick thinking and accurate passing. There is clearly so much more to come from him, but I am a fan already.

Gabriel dos Santos Magalhães, or simply Big Gab, has been with us longer and is having a great start to the season. He is the rock in our defence, the first soldier. He is our Obelix and just loves clearing the ball and taking on big CFs. Gabriel also acts quickly and has a decent forward pass in him, but his biggest and most needed quality is being the aerial King in the box. In terms of character, Big Gab, who is still only 23(!), is, a mixture between Aaron and Ben; and this suits our central defence triangle perfectly. Gabriel has fine organisational skills too, but with White and Ramsdale doing the leadership/organisational stuff he can fully focus on bossing the aerial zone in our defence.

Together they form a promising central defensive trio, one around which Arsenal can build a solid future.

Currently, Leno, Holding, Chambers and Mari are in the back-up positions and it is hard to see how they could dislodge the current trio. But a season is long and success can only be achieved by having a strong wider squad and healthy competition. Especially Holding will play a key role in adding something different to the team when required.

Our almost totally new central defence is one to build the team on. No doubt there will be setbacks on the way, but there is every reason to be excited about Arteta’s transformation of the defence.

By TotalArsenal

44 thoughts on “Arteta may Finally Have His Perfect Trio in Defence

  • Brighton v Arsenal A
    Manchester United v Everton * H 3-1
    Burnley v Norwich D
    Wolves v Newcastle H
    Liverpool v Manchester City * H 1-0
    Brighton Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * A 0-5

  • Good subject after the type of goals we scored Sunday. All three goals started from deep, which is not that common, and may be why Arteta pushed for Ben White, who seemed like an expensive luxury, considering we have a very good Holding, plus Saliba out on loan.
    ….TA was right in that the manager had a vision for how he wants the team to play.

    I’d say that in backups, we are in pretty good shape. I rate Holding, and I think Marì is a decent option. Only Man City and Chelsea have better options because of their gluttonous (unfair) spending. If you compare our group of defenders depth to other good, big clubs, we are better than United, Liverpool and far better than other top six chasers.

    The differences in attributes between White and Gab may be what makes the pairing special. A little bit like the under rated Mertesacker and Koscielny pairing. Though I have high hopes that they can be even more special. Younger, more athletic to grow together too. Add in young leader Tierney and it gets exciting to think about.

    Not much to add about our great Wall of Japan. Everyone can see how impressive he is. I can only say, that in the years I’ve been following Arsenal, he looks like the best 1 v 1 Defender i have seen yet. That’s saying a lot.

  • Cheers J, good comment. The comparison with Mert-Koz is astute.

    I loved it when White beat half moon faced Kane high up which then let to Emile’s Spud-slicing opener. Yes please press us high so we get lovely space to run in to… 👍🏼

  • I forgot to mention Ramsdale. Besides the enormous distance kicks (with good accuracy), one thing he does in distribution, besides being quicker in general, he has a move on opposing forwards where he feigns that he’s going to unload a long kick out, then puts a dart between the two or three nearest pressers, direct, straight through the middle which takes a couple opponents out of the play and gets us on our way. Leno side to side teasing didn’t really accomplish anything, and became a drag, tiring our back line and frustrating the rest on the pitch.

    Ramsdale will make a very occasional error in the higher risk style, but it brings much more frequent benefits. Well worth it.

    Still huge credit to Arteta for making the switch almost immediately. All summer I said he was being bought as number 1 keeper, but I didn’t expect the manager to go for it so soon. The proper description is brave, because any bad result in these past 3 games and pundits and unhappy “fans” would’ve been all over the move.

  • I try not to be the glass half empty guy this time, just be cautious before the conclusion as all 3 teams defeated with this trio recently was poor in midfield and attack.
    Nevertheless the progress is indeed promising. And when the opponents have few and minor chances, you can never be sure whether the tame attackers were the cause and the strong defensive performance the effect, or the other way around. 🙂
    Anyway, it seems that a back-4 is plenty, so fortunately we don’t have to give up a midfield (3-4-3) or an attacking (3-5-2 / 5-3-2) position to bolster our defense.

    Just one question, TA.
    You keep calling White as Big Ben, while he is not only actually smaller than Bernd, Aaron, Gabriel and Pablo (who are all huge fellas), but also smaller than Holding and Tomi. Is it just a pun on words, or do you want to boost his confidence when he is playing alongside Big Gab? 🙂

  • I also appreciate the change in Ramsdale’s play, J, as well as the balls required for his recruitment and fast inclusion, but we should celebrate only at the end of the season. Leno didn’t make costly mistakes in his first 5-6 games either. In fact, he makes about 2 every year, so even if Aaron gets caught once, it could still be an improvement.

  • PB,

    A little anecdote for you. A soldier once stood next to Napoleon and declared he was the biggest of the two… Napoleon made a Gallic shrug of the shoulder, and said: you are wrong my friend. You are maybe the tallest but I, I am the biggest!

    Ben is Big.

  • PB, Burnley managed to score two v Leicester away and Spuds have perhaps the best attacking duo in the league. Of course emptiness can always be spotted, though 😜😎

  • Brighton v Arsenal…… Away
    Man Utd v Everton…… Home (3-0)
    Burnley v Norwich…… Home
    Wolves v Newcastle… Home
    Liverpool v Man City.. Home (2-1)
    Brighton v Arsenal….. Away (0-6)

  • Nobody challenges Kane’s quality, but he was really very poor and ineffective against Arsenal (most of the player ratings gave him 2 or 3 out of 10, which might be harsh, but indicates a ‘lot worse than average’ performance). I was merely wondering if he came already de-concentrated due to external factors (poor preparation, contract issues, conflicts with coach or teammates, hostile atmosphere in the Emirates), or were it White and Gabriel who should take the full responsibility of the extremely low ratings for the best player of the last PL campaign? 🙂

  • Hi PB, I kinda like Total calling White “Big Ben” I find it describes his recent performances – not necessarily his stature.

    Alexis Sanchez was only 5′ 5″ but at his best he was a huge player.

  • Xhaka out for 6 to 8 weeks is going to be a huge problem, not least in terms of rotational options, he should be back a couple of weeks before we lose our ACN players, the ACN starts on January 9th and finishes a month later.

    It’s one area where we’ve been deficient in our Academy for quite a few years therefore I don’t see any young defensive midfielders pushing on from the U23’s any time soon.

  • Good point, GN5, Alexis was my favorite player since the Bergkamp-Henry era.
    Height had nothing to do with that.
    Too bad he went down in history as a greedy mercenary.

  • That is indeed bad news, Kev.
    TA is right though that due to the 2 international breaks there will be only 9 games in October-November.

    I think Xhaka is a must start when available, but without him we should be OK with Partey-Lokonga playing the midfield pivot in 4-2-3-1 and Thomas representing the whole midfield in 4-1-4-1 with ESR and Ode playing a bit deeper.
    Plus we have Elneny and AMN for substitution and rotation, and worst case scenario we can still call up Akinola (20, DM) or Patino (17, CM) to sit on the bench.

  • Pb,
    You are completely right. You are being a bit glass half empty under the circumstances 😅….
    You know how much we agree, and promise you I am being guarded in my optimism, always the possibility of a false dawn.
    …… but it’s also important to allow yourself to rejoice in the happy moments. I know you are a great perfectionist, but if you look at it pretty evenly, you have to admit, aside from the result, we saw more than a glimpse of what you and I have been crying out for, for almost 2 years under Arteta. I had my doubts that he could coach the boys to passing that we haven’t seen before under him.

    As much as I hope for consistency from the team in results, who knows when we’ll have as much fun as we did on Sunday?

    Even if we had beaten Norwich with that exact same performance, I’d be thrilled because of the progressive passing we showed. Not to mention physicality, toughness. A lot of good signs on a perfect day.

    By the way, I don’t rate the spurs except for Son and Lloris. You can have the rest of them, over rated.

  • Bonaparte certainly had the biggest ego of his era. What devastation he caused.
    Following two points from the thread above, another “greedy mercenary” was ‘C’ashley Cole, but he was the best one on one defender (fullback) I have seen at Arsenal. Even Ronaldo in his Man U pomp never got the best of him.

  • Xhaka’s injury is very unfortunate as everyone says there are international breaks in between. This is also chance for AMN to solidify his spot. He will be back by AFCON when Partey and Elneny are gone. I still feel we missed a trick by not buying someone in the center mid just to give options. We could have offloaded Elneny and made space for that person.
    You know don’t be surprised if Xhaka is back earlier than predicted.

  • Last sunday was our best team be it defense, midfield or attack. Great team balance and gelling. Like a performance car purring. If the team can avoid injuries and play to that first half performance, they can beat any team and make top 4 in the league. Finally, Odegaard has been underrated by many people including the “experts” but he is our vital cog with great vision, intelligent positioning with or without the ball, superb close ball-control and excellent workrate. I reckon that he is almost if not already worldclass.

  • You are obviously right, JNYC.
    I don’t consider myself a hard-boiled perfectionist, but I admit I consider the the display at least as important as the result, so for me a 4:4 draw could be far more enjoyable than a 1:0 win. (I hope I don’t have to over-explain, this is not about the numerical result: there are great 1:0 wins and there are ugly ones.)
    Our two 1:0 wins – against Norwich and Burnley – were ugly ones. While I was happy for the 3 points and the clean sheets, the display didn’t make me proud, especially the low number of chances and the poor finishing. Nevertheless the 3:1 against Tottenham was a different story, with confident defense, creative midfield and fluid attack.
    So when I hope that we should do the excellent first half performance against the best possible Spurs team, I might be a bit too perfectionist, as the sheer difference in quality between Arsenal and our arch nemesis should indeed elevate the morale and the confidence.

  • TA, on Xhaka, the best part that I was hoping for is no surgery. I have a strong feeling 3 months is a super conservative time frame. I bet the Granite man will do it in less than 2 months.

  • Arsenal legend David Seaman returns to club to help coach youth team

    Simon Collings
    Arsenal legend David Seaman is helping to coach the club’s youth teams.

    The Gunners academy manager Per Mertesacker reached out to Seaman and he has agreed to come onboard.

    Seaman will be working with the club’s youth teams on an informal basis, helping out from time to time.

    The former goalkeeper brings with him a wealth of experience. During 13 years at Arsenal as a player, he made over 550 appearances for the Gunners in what was an illustrious career.

    Seaman helped the club win the FA Cup and Premier League double on two occasions during his time there. The 58-year-old also racked up 75 caps for England too.

    His presence on the training ground will be a boost for Arsenal and he will be expected to pass on his knowledge to the club’s young goalkeepers.

    Seaman is expected to work with the club over the coming weeks and months.

  • Brighton v Arsenal A
    Manchester United v Everton * H (3-0)
    Burnley v Norwich D
    Wolves v Newcastle H
    Liverpool v Manchester City * H (2-1)
    Brighton Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * A (0-4)

  • Good stuff Kev. Thanks.
    Midfielder in January? I wonder…. I guess a lot would depend on Parteys ability to stay in the lineup the next few months before AFCON … if he can’t be in the lineup consistently, we may have to wonder about depending on him in the future.. Also most key will be how Ainsley and Sambi perform. If the club want to keep some powder dry for adding something special in the summer, they might want to think about promotion of the young ones towards the end of the season.

    If we can go on a good run, and stay near the top quarter of the table through Christmas, it might be incentive for them to invest for the second half of the season. But with exciting talents coming through, I don’t want a stop-gap that could be expensive or block Patino, Azeez. (I hear they are promising). Remember, 2 of our toughest games are out of the way already, even if we didn’t get points from them.

  • Jync,

    Maybe that should read three of our toughest gamest are out of the way with a 1/3 record.

  • The biggest issue is Xhaka’s org skills and left foot, Kev. Think that Partey will move left or be sole DM, with Sambi, Elneny or Ainsley used regularly. If Partey also gets injured it will get v tricky.

    Yes I think we will buy a quality midfielder in January, but Ainsley will get a chance to fill the gap first. Lokonga is mid to long term and nderstudy of Partey. Elneny is, squad depth.

  • N5,
    If you are counting Spurs as a tough game… maybe for the rivalry aspect. But I think we will have a much tougher time with West Ham, Aston Villa, Brighton, for examples, than Spuds. I get giddy when I think about the decline spurs are on. I see it as a long term trajectory. It will make our recent tough years seem like the blink of an eye.

    TA can tell you, that for a person who never watched a minute of this sport for most of my adult life, I have developed an exquisite hatred for them. Even during the superleague controversy, my biggest complaint was that such garbage would even be allowed to buy into the league. I was literally offended and infuriated. I was saying at least we have recent relevant history and trophies thanks to Arsene, even if we were buying in at a low period. All other superleague issues aside.

    I call it the joy of hate. I could do a post on just that.

  • Haha N5, I know. I just love stepping on them when they’re down.

    The NBC commentator Arlo White, who like most in his job, use tons of hyperbole, had a great line.
    At 2-0 he said this NLD might be remembered as the day this new Arsenal was born. I was feeling that myself. If this team (group) goes on to be successful, it really will be remembered for that.

  • Fine comments all round, fellas and to a good post by TA. Successful sides usually have a stable backline as a foundation, so I am all for retaining those 3 mentioned. Fitness allowing, we may be able to add the sole DM role Partey is adept at playing and we could be talking of a perfect Quartet. Throw on Tomiyasu and Tierney and we have a formidable backbone to build (forward forays) on. I don’t look forward to the absences we shall have for the AFCON but “it is what it is”, right?

    Granit will be missed. I only hope we don’t get to find out just how much, in a wrong way (we need wins, any how).

    Great to hear Seaman is at the club under some arrangement. Way to go, Arsenal. I would like to see ex players like Sol Campbell, Keown and even Adams around the club in some capacity too. I quite understand it isn’t always possible to accommodate these guys in the club set up too often, especially as they have a penchant for doing punditry duties, which means leaks may occur. But imagine the impact on the young players to see the club greats around them.

    Jync, on your Spurs hate……it is you and me both, mate. 😅

  • Sorry, GN5. Here goes:

    Brighton v Arsenal A
    Manchester United v Everton * H (3-2)
    Burnley v Norwich D
    Wolves v Newcastle D
    Liverpool v Manchester City * D (2-2)
    Brighton Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * A (1-5)

  • GN5, please check to confirm the Ladies’ league fixture. I read that our next game is against Villa, not Brighton. Or, could this be a different tournament and not the WWSL?

  • Brighton is FA Cup semis. Last night Women smashed Spurs 5-1 to setup FA Cup clash with Brighton.

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