HomeEPL - TeamsArsenalTimber's Arsenal Arrival Prompts Another Shift for Ben White

Timber’s Arsenal Arrival Prompts Another Shift for Ben White

Timber’s Impact: White’s Third Role Change on Horizon?

Ben White joined Arsenal from Brighton in the summer of 2021 for a fee of £50mil. It seemed an excessive fee at the time as the young defender had only one season of Premier League football under his belt. White had excelled on loans in the lower leagues, but his top flight experience was minimal.

Brighton are Brighton though and once they set a price, they stick to it. Likewise Edu, Arsenal’s Director of Football, not shown much interest in protracted negotiations and routinely ends up paying the asking price to get deals over the line.

Photo: IMAGO

White’s Initial Struggles at Arsenal

In his first season with the Gunners, White was used in the centre of a back four next to Gabriel. It wasn’t a particularly successful pairing with Arsenal shipping 48 goals as they lost 13 games in Premier League, and missed out on top four.

With White having clearly been signed to play in the middle of the defense, given the Gunners also signed Japanese international right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu the same summer for a considerable fee, Arsenal were in somewhat of a quandary after the first season.

Photo: IMAGO

William Saliba was returning to the club after multiple loans and was seeking assurances about playing time, and Arsenal’s defense needed a commanding aerial presence like him. So what to do with White? Move him to the left of the centre-back pairing? That wouldn’t work because Arteta likes to have a left footed player there to create different passing angles? So, to right-back? Tomiyasu had suffered a number of injuries and unfortunately Arteta didn’t feel he could rely on him to stay fit.

So White moved to right-back, and enjoyed a very good season as Arsenal finished second. He played a vital role in Arsenal’s build-up play, combining with Odegaard and Saka down Arsenal’s flank.

The Signing of Jurrien Timber and its Implication for White

Now Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Jurrien Timber, the question is where does he play? The most natural fit would be at right-back, so what does that mean for White?

Could Mikel Arteta look to take advantage of White’s versatility by making him a utility player who plays most weeks but isn’t necessarily part of the “first 11”? It would make sense. White could be cover for Timber at right-back, Saliba at right centre-back and Declan Rice in the holding midfield spot.

White played in midfield at times while on loan at Leeds and looked very comfortable in the role. He could also play in midfield sets alongside Rice with one of Havertz or Odegaard dropping out if Arteta wanted a more secure set-up in big away games.

There has been talking that Kieran Tierney will leave the club this summer, with Tomiyasu becoming the cover option at left back, so using White in a utility role who can play three positions might be the best use of him, while making Timber the starting right-back should improve the team defensively.

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