Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night and according to many, centre backs Ben White and Gabriel could have done better when defending the two goals which they conceded.
Ben White and Gabriel have become the first-choice defensive pairing for Mikel Arteta this season and over the past few matches, these two have looked fairly solid and composed in their roles.
But on Monday, the likes of Benteke and Edouard clearly got the better of the pair and while dissecting their performances, Gary Neville has explained where they went wrong and where they can improve.
‘I think Gabriel on the first goal and Ben White on the second have got to do better,’ the Sky Sports pundit said, as quoted.
‘You’ve got to stop Benteke coming on his right foot. So many times you see defenders do this. Benteke is going to get a shot away, there’s no doubt about that, but make him have a shot from a worse position. Make him have a shot on his weaker foot and he doesn’t do that.
‘Once Benteke comes back in he takes it really well and he then set up the second.
‘I think both centre-backs will look at those goals and think: “We’ve got to try and engage outside of the box.”
‘You’re better off giving a foul away and taking a booking outside the box and letting them come in and shoot like that.
‘The defender has got to dictate to the forward which foot the striker is going to shoot with and they don’t, both of them. They allow the striker to do what they what without impacting the shot and that isn’t good defending.
‘Yes, you might not get a block on the shot but at least try and show them to a point where they have a shot on their left and let the goalkeeper get a good sight of it.’
Ben White and Gabriel look shaky against big centre-forwards:
The arrival of Ben White has added a lot of stability in the back line for Arsenal but the reality is that he along with Gabriel look wobbly whenever they’re up against big strikers.
We saw an example of that on Monday when both Edouard and Benteke had ample amounts of room to manoeuvre and do their thing and it was the same case when Ivan Toney bullied the Gunners defence a few weeks ago.
Palace 1st goal. Look at this shocking defending and how exposed we were, all that space and not one arsenal player in it.
Palace 2nd goal, the uneccesary Ben White backtracking for nothing and not closing down, Lokonga decides to give up on marking his man pic.twitter.com/RAdC3bJzyL
— Alvanos⭐🇦🇱 (@kastrioteve) October 19, 2021
The Brentford forward overpowered and outmuscled Ben White(Gabriel was not playing in that match) when these two sides met back in August. But since it was the first game of the new season, many were ready to give the benefit of the doubt to Arsenal’s summer signing.
But the Palace draw has once again mirrored the same issues and this time even Gabriel has joined the bandwagon. Against the Eagles, Ben White won one and lost one duel while Gabriel lost as many as three duels. Gabriel did make two clearances but throughout the match, he only had attempted one tackle
These two are going to be the first-choice centre-backs for the rest of the season so Mikel Arteta has no option but to live with what he has right now. Maybe, the manager can try to bring in someone like Pablo Mari whenever the opposition has a physical specimen like Toney or Lukaku.