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Arsenal Season Review: Center Back
Next in the continuing series looking at how Arsenal did position by position is right-back.
I have previously looked at strikers:
And Right Back:
Let's start by looking at how Arsenal's center backs performed compared to the other Premier League teams this season.
An important note is that as we have moved further away from the attacking side of the ball, the more stats are into iffy territory of saying something is good or bad, and simply describing what happened and how a player plays without being able to make judgments.
So just reiterate here I don't think this says that Arsenal center backs are good or bad, but I think this matches the general way that they have played.
Arsenal's center backs are important for the build-up but are not especially high volume passers. They look to move the ball forward with the ball at their feet than others and that leads to more turnovers and generally a bit more risk taking when they try to beat a man with the ball.
On defensive actions, they are not especially active. They tackle about as much the average combo but really shy away from trying to intercept the ball. This isn't surprising as Mikel Arteta doesn't seem to encourage interceptions (perhaps he feels the reward doesn't match the risk if it fails).
I think that this looks like a solid set of stats for Arsenal's center backs.
I think Gabriel had a very good season for Arsenal.
He had moments where he looked like he wasn't fully ready but played anyway (most notably after his child was born) and that lead to many of his mistakes but overall this was a very good season.
I think that his passing ability gets a bit of a bad rap. He isn't the greatest passing center back but he also isn't asked to be nor is he a liability as the secondary guy to help get the ball upfield.
On defense, I think he has looked good. He rarely looks overmatched physically and I think has formed a good partnership with Ben White.
White was brought in last summer to be the more ball playing of Arsenal's center backs, wile also generally being the more aggressive of the defenders.
I think he has adequately checked those boxes.
His passing is more aggressive than Gabriel but his role is still one where his primary focus is to get it from the defensive third into a midfielder in the middle third, with progressing further being a secondary task.
Overall his passing looks good compared to other center backs but there is probably room for more growth in this area for him next season.
Holding was a perfectly acceptable third center back for Arsenal last season. He made some key contributions but also made some mistakes, overall the level was what I would have expected.
I don't have a ton to say on him because overall he wasn't that involved in the team's play.
Outlook for next season
The big change coming for next season is the (hopefully) addition of William Saliba to take over the third center back role and to give competition to Arsenal's established pair.
I have already broken down more what his stats at Marseille say about him in a longer post but it is really interesting to me how similar his profile is to White, I think that will be an interesting battle between the two players for minutes.
One of the areas that I think might still be unsettled is if Arsenal are interested in bringing in a second left-footed center back. This is something that Arteta seems to favor but is not something that other coaches feel is a must have. Saliba has played from the left before so maybe that would be good enough as a back up type situation.
Overall this is not an area that I am concerned about, Arsenal have three center backs in their pre-prime years who should be more than able to cover the minutes that the team will have for them.