Mikel Arteta hails Ben White, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel and Takehiro Tomiyasu as the Gunners’ new ‘fab four’ and believes the quartet could be bedrock of Arsenal for years to come
- Arsenal are unbeaten since the quartet first played together earlier this month
- Mikel Arteta believes Kieran Tierney, Ben White, Gabriel and Takehiro Tomiyasu can form a lasting partnership for the Gunners as the first-choice defensive unit
- Arsenal built success in the 1990s and early 2000s on a rock-solid back four
- They are unbeaten in last five Premier League games ahead of trip to Leicester
Mikel Arteta has tipped his new-look back four to be bedrock of Arsenal for years to come.
The Gunners have been unbeaten since Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel and Kieran Tierney first played together at the start of last month.
And with an average age of only 23, Arteta believes he has finally found four defenders capable of forming a lasting partnership and solve Arsenal’s perennial problem of shipping goals.
Arsenal find themselves unbeaten since Takehiro Tomiyasu (not pictured), Ben White (middle), Gabriel (right) and Kieran Tierney (left) first played together at the start of last month
‘I think they all have the qualities to complement each other and the connection between them is natural,’ admitted Arsenal boss Arteta ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leicester.
‘We are just in October, there are still eight months to play.
‘In the long run we will see what we get, but so far I am really pleased with them.
‘The potential is there because of the qualities they have individually and how they complement each other with those qualities.
Mikel Arteta believes the quartet could be the bedrock of Arsenal’s defence for a long time
Ben White has impressed so far since arriving from Brighton for £50million in the summer
‘With the age of the group that we have, if we manage them well and they are willing to sustain that, they have a really bright future.’
Unlike Arsenal’s legendary back four of the 1990s which was all English, Arteta’s current first-choice defence contains players from Japan, England, Brazil and Scotland.
‘You have to connect different cultures, languages, ways of thinking, different backgrounds, because they have all been coached in different ways,’ said Arteta.
‘You have to link the pieces, but I am lucky because they are so willing to learn, to understand and to try their best. When that happens it makes things a little bit easier.’
After a rocky start to the season, Arsenal are unbeaten in the last five Premier League games
Tony Adams (left) and Martin Keown were key figures of Arsenal’s back four in the 1990s
Left back Tierney is a doubt to face Leicester at lunchtime having missed last week’s win over Aston Villa with an ankle injury, when he was replaced by 21-year-old Portuguese Nuno Tavares.
Arsenal’s £50million centre-half White, meanwhile, should be fit despite picking up a sickness bug which has been circulating around the squad this week.
The England international drew criticism earlier this month – including from Gunners legend Patrick Vieira – when he confessed to never really watching football games, growing up or even now.
Tierney remains a doubt for Saturday’s lunchtime trip to Leicester with an ankle injury
But Arteta said: ‘If you force a player to do something he’s not interested in outside here, it’s going to be very difficult.
‘The most important thing is that he shows passion to play the game. Every single day to train and to have enjoyment playing football – which is what he has.
‘If we believed that this could be better, this is something that we would discuss. But at the moment what he’s doing is working fine for him.
‘I really like his character. When I met him, that’s when we made the decision to sign him.’
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