Arsenal couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to the season. The Gunners now return to Emirates with a hard-earned 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, a side who outran them in possession and charged towards them with blistering pace.
The North Londoners were able to contain the home team but had to withstand Palace’s hostile turf throughout the game. Gabriel Jesus stared up front with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli on the wings while ex-Manchester City full-back, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and English international Ben White were careful with their movements from the back.
Arsenal led at the end of the first half with a cheeky Martinelli header and doubled their lead in the second after Saka’s shot took a deflection and ended up at the back of the net towards the end of the game.
The job was done and the fan analysis wasn’t far behind, with particular attention diverted to Ben White for his impeccable grit in the defensive line. After joining Arsenal in the previous season, the 24-year-old has earned the confidence of his manager, Mikel Arteta, and has been an active participant in the Gunners’ defence.
When White was named in the playing XI against Palace, there was an air of scepticism around him, but by the end of the encounter, despite being booked once for a critical challenge, the young defender prevailed.
White was consistently involved in a battle with Palace’s lethal winger, Wilfried Zaha, who has gained a notorious reputation for creating havoc from the wings. To contain him for many teams is a challenge that they prepare for most carefully, but White was up for the job.
In the first half, White ensured Zaha didn’t pass through him. There was shirt grabbing, smart tackles, and a lot of determination to hold his fort that gave White an unexpected edge over Zaha in the game. This frustrated Zaha, who, in order to get the better of White, started looking for avenues to dive and get the defender booked.
For most of the game, White was in control but as it happens to any player on the pitch when you lose a bit of concentration, the opponent will pounce and so did Zaha for a brief bit as he tortured White with his gimmicks but the Englishman’s brutal relentlessness to hold Zaha was perfectly captured in a photo.
In this click, we see a charged-up White punching through the air after winning a duel while Zaha’s inability to overpower the defender once again leaves him completely dejected. It summarized the rivalry that White and Zaha endured through the game where White came out victorious and with a rejuvenated fan base that had doubts about his skills as a defender.
The fans on the internet hailed White as a surprise package. The Englishman now seemed to have sealed his spot for the next few games, but he needs to be wary of the upcoming challenges as they won’t be as pleasant or forgiving as Zaha.