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.