Mikel Arteta hails White and Tomiyasu’s versatility for Arsenal

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By Martin Graham | 17th Sep 2022

Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on Arsenal duo Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu over their ability to play in several positions for the club.

The 24-year-old formed a brilliant central defensive partnership with Gabriel last season, but has shown his versatility this term following William Saliba’s emergence at centre back.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s game against Brentford on Sunday, Mikel Arteta said he had a conversation with the England international before deciding to change his role, and is equally pleased with the response he has seen from the player.

Arteta pleased to have ‘flexible’ White and Tomiyasu

It is always a blessing for managers to have players who can feature in several positions and it is even better if the player can excel brilliantly in all those positions.

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“Obviously we talk, because when you are thinking about doing something to maximise the resources you have in the squad to play the way we want to play, you have to have certainty that the player is happy to do so, and feels capable to do that.”

“If not, it is just a waste of time,” he added.

“So it has to go both ways, I have those discussions with Ben, he’s always been very open. I think he’s really enjoying playing in that position, that’s why he’s been doing so well.

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“I think it’s great for him, at his age, to be involved in other positions.”

Takehiro Tomiyasu made his first start of the season in the club’s Europa League win over FC Zurich last Thirsday, and Arteta adds that his versatility is also a huge bonus for the squad, just like White

“Both can play as central defenders as well,” he said in the pre-match press conference.

“Tomi has been playing left centre back for his national team Japan. When you look at the games, he can play as a left back too, because you cannot tell me if he’s a left or right-footed player.

“So we have the options there, and we have to utilise them in the best possible way. Especially with the number of minutes we are going to have in the next few weeks, and it’s great that players are comfortable doing more than one position.”

Arsenal aim to return to winning ways

After suffering their first defeat of the season in a 3-1 loss to Manchester United, the Gunners will be looking to bounce back to winning ways on domestic front but will face a tricky fixture in the form of Brentford.

The Bees won this exact fixture by a 2-0 scoreline last season but it is a different looking Arsenal side this time around and the Gunners will fancy their chances of winning and staying top of the Premier League ahead of the international break.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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