Ben White criticism gets its Arsenal context

Being signed for no less than £50m, in turn becoming the most expensive Englishman and defender Arsenal have ever acquired, ensures that Benjamin White will receive his fair share of criticism when financially-imposed standards aren’t met.

A heavily depleted Arsenal side kicked their Premier League season off away at Brentford in a fixture where many of the onlooking gazes were aimed at the 24-year-old.

One of only two of Mikel Arteta’s summer acquisitions to start the Friday night clash, his performance was always going to be under the microscope with the pre-match narrative centering heavily on White’s supposed aerial weaknesses.

Is he the best in the air? No. Of all his many endearing attributes it is arguably his biggest flaw. That doesn’t mean he’s entirely incapable though, far from it, even if he was made out to be in west London as Ivan Toney dominated him in the air.

Ben White criticism gets its Arsenal context as Ivan Toney dominates Chelsea and Liverpool in the same vein as he did Arteta’s £50m defender

Given a torrid night by the tallest 5’10” human on the planet, the criticism began falling his way as questions were asked why Arsenal decided to spend £50m on someone who can’t jump.

In all of the Bees’ games since, those who used this as a stick to beat White with have been left with egg on their faces: Toney has bossed every defender he’s faced this season. Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, the entire Chelsea team, Kurt Zouma, Conor Coady…they’ve all been governed by him.

There is now some context to put the criticism into perspective. While Arsenal obviously want White to be winning all his aerial duels, any criticism the defender faces can come from legitimate other angles – like his overall performance at Burnley, for example.

It’s all very selective. White was ripped in the media post-game while Matip had nothing of the sort. Nicolas Pepe cost £72m and is regularly lambasted for the waste of money many argue he is, yet you don’t hear anything about Jadon Sancho’s uninspiring start or Donny van de Beek’s fluttering career sitting on a Manchester United bench he’s made his own groove in.

Arsenal are always easy targets. It’s a bed they’ve made for themselves with their decisions in recent years and ever faltering league standing. It just needs riding out.

In this case, however, White was unfairly picked out as the culprit. His response? Be one of Arsenal’s better players in all the matches that have followed. That has done very nicely. And all without watching a single game of football! Remarkable stuff.

But watching Toney eat up Premier League defenders with Champions League medals to their names each and every week proves that sometimes the narratives are merely designed to paint Arsenal players in a bad light. Easy targets, etc.

White is doing just fine.