Defenders Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu face a stern test as Arsenal travel to Burnley in the Premier League – and Mikel Arteta has sent the duo a rousing message
Mikel Arteta has urged Ben White and Takehrio Tomiyasu to match Burnley’s physicality as Arsenal travel to Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon.
The Gunners struggled to cope with Sean Dyche’s side last season, losing 1-0 at home and drawing 1-1 away, and their defence has been overpowered at times this campaign.
This was clear in the opening-game defeat at Brentford, when Ivan Toney got the better of centre-back White and the Bees scored from a long throw.
But Arsenal have since bolstered their defence with the deadline-day signing of Tomiyasu from Bologna – and Arteta is confident his backline can keep the likes of Chris Wood at bay.
“He needs to play his game,” the Spaniard told reporters of White. “I fully trust him.
“He knows what he is going to face, not just him but every defender in the Premier League against any opponent. You are going to be exposed and he needs to do what he is good at.
“The things that he can improve, he can improve them, but when you jump against Wood 10 times in the air, with a ball flying in the air, it is pretty difficult to win every duel to be fair.
“So it is about that duel and what happens around him as well.”
Arteta is also confident Tomiyasu’s “presence” will make Arsenal much harder to break down, with the 6′ 2″ Japan international set to make his second appearance for his club.
The 22-year-old played just over an hour in the 1-0 victory over Norwich City last weekend, and Arteta said: “He looks clean, honest, transparent and then when he’s on that pitch, he doesn’t doubt.
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“He’s fully committed, he goes for every ball, he’s reassuring, he’s got a presence and he’s a very honest player and you could see the reaction and the connection he had straight away with the fans.”
Although Arteta has a fresh option available in defence, he is sweating over the fitness of Thomas Partey, who suffered an ankle injury in late August.
“He is there. He has been training in and out this week, his load had to be managed because it was the early stages of the injury, what he had,” said Arteta of the Ghanaian.
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“But he is pushing everyone like he always does and he wants to be involved. We will make the decision at the weekend of what is best for him.”
The Gunners boss added: “Hopefully we get some players back, everyone trained well this week. Obviously we still have Granit (Xhaka) suspended, and the rest hopefully will be fine.”