‘I love the boy’: Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal star after 1-0 win at Chelsea FC
Mikel Arteta reserves special praise for Ben White after Arsenal's 1-0 victory over Chelsea FC on Sunday
Mikel Arteta reserved special praise for Ben White after the defender’s fine performance helped Arsenal to claim a 1-0 victory at Chelsea FC on Sunday.
The England international has started all 13 of Arsenal’s games in the Premier League so far this term and he played the full 90 minutes in their triumph at Stamford Bridge as they moved back to the top of the table.
White was deployed at right-back against the Blues, with William Saliba, Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko making up the remainder of the Gunners’ back line.
The 25-year-old produced a calm and composed performance for Arteta’s side, as Gabriel scored the eventual winner from a corner in the 63rd minute at Stamford Bridge.
With White having been in excellent form in different positions this season, Arteta spoke about how pleased he has been by his performances of late in the wake of Sunday’s win.
Asked about White’s performance at his post-match news conference on Sunday, Arteta replied: “[I’m] really happy with him. I think he’s playing in different positions, and he’s accommodated himself in a great way to the full-back position.
“His understanding with the players around him is top, and I really like him. He always wants to be there, he trains every single day. He plays under any circumstance. I love the boy.”
Arteta also singled out central defenders Gabriel and Saliba for their strong performances at the back after the duo helped the visitors to keep a clean sheet in south west London.
“I think both of them [Gabriel and Saliba] – that pair again, they were outstanding. That’s why we sustained them really well, especially when we had to defend open spaces, which it is very difficult against these players – what we defend them to do. But I think they did it, great.”
The Arsenal boss, who is approaching his third anniversary in charge at The Emirates, also praised midfielder Granit Xhaka for producing another fine performance for the Gunners.
“He is a fighter,” Arteta said of Xhaka. “He’s someone that is going to face difficulty and adversity, he’s done that and now he needs to enjoy as well, he needs to learn to enjoy more the good moments, I think he deserves that.”
Meanwhile, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville insisted that he will continue to question the Gunners’ ability to sustain a title challenge this season because they still still have it all to prove.
Arsenal are back on top of the Premier League table and two points clear of second-placed Manchester City, and the north Londoners are the only team in the league to have scored in all of their games – but they have not won the title since 2004.
“We have to question Arsenal,” Neville said on the Sky Sports Gary Neville podcast. “Arsenal fans come at me every single week, every single week, because I will still continue to question them until I don’t see a moment like I did with five or six games to go last season and they get through those moments and they finish in the top-four.
“They haven’t proven it yet. It’s like a boxer who hasn’t won a title. You have to question them. But what you can’t question is that was a really, really good performance.
“It’s still very early in the season and we’ve got this unique break for the World Cup, we don’t know how players are going to react to that. There has to be questions because we don’t know what will happen after that but Arsenal have been fantastic in this first part of the season.
“They’re a real value team, they play great football, I love watching their forward players. I love Jesus, I love Saka, I love Martinelli, absolutely fantastic. Odegaard is class, he’s class.
“But I want to see it over 38 games and we’ve seen recently they’ve found it tough in the last part of the season. That is not being overly negative. It’s just saying let’s see what happens in 20 games’ time.”