After a slow start to life at Arsenal, Ben White is now proving to be one of the signings of the season and will be influential to the Gunners’ Champions League aspirations.
White signed for the North London club in the summer for £50 million after impressing all who watched him play at Brighton last season.
The centre-back struggled out of the gate for Mikel Arteta’s side though, with his debut seeing the team lose 2-0 to newly promoted Brentford and fans were quick to label the move a flop and accuse Arsenal of overpaying for the 24-year-old.
White looked lost out there and the Bees took advantage of that, dominating Arsenal and making it look easy for the newly promoted side. The defender then missed the next two games in the league, both of which Arsenal lost and it looked like the move could already have turned sour.
As the season has progressed though, Arsenal and White himself have shown vast improvements from the early stages of the campaign and the Gunners’ now find themselves in a battle for Champions League qualification, way exceeding expectations of fans and pundits alike.
White has been at the centre of his side’s excellent form and is already repaying the faith Arteta and his team showed in him when they brought him in for such a substantial transfer fee.
The Gunners have really tightened things up at the back in recent weeks, conceding just twice in their last six league games and White has been ever present in the side and instrumental in the side’s turnaround.
Public opinion has reversed quickly and many are now calling White’s £50 million price tag a bargain and taking to social media to emphasise his importance to the Arsenal team.
The Englishman’s superb form was underlined by his sensational man of the match display against Liverpool this week as Arsenal held Jurgen Klopp’s men to a 0-0, despite being down to 10 men for over 70 minutes of the affair.
White was undeniable at the back and held a Liverpool side who have outscored all but Manchester City in the league this season at bay, despite the Reds having the extra man advantage.
The centre-back lead the way with the most tackles, interceptions and blocks in the game, rightfully deserving the man of the match award he was granted at the end.
It is not just his physical attributes that are quickly making White a serious asset to Arsenal though, it is also the strong leadership skills and vocal presence he has brought to the side that have helped strengthen the team’s defence.
For a long time, Arsenal have been lacking a true leader, with recent captains such as Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both disappointing with the armband and seeing the captaincy taken away from them, but White has demonstrated on numerous occasions his place as a natural leader and one who can lead the Gunners for years to come.
It is almost inevitable the former Leeds loanee will eventually take the captain’s armband himself, but until then it is clear he will not shy away from letting his teammates know what is expected of them and always hold them accountable, qualities in a player every great team needs.