Isaan Khan: Bournemouth did their homework on Ben White's dark arts

Benjamin White of Arsenal in action with Justin Kluivert of AFC Bournemouth during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and AFC Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on May 04, 2024 in London, England. 

It is those pesky dark arts Ben White deploys which have turned the attention away from his playing ability of late.

As seen against Tottenham last weekend, White in the opposition penalty area on corner-kicks is a menace. That day he had a part to play in two of Arsenal's goals, appearing to try undo goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario's gloves before the ball reached the box for the first goal.

And then for the third goal, scored by Kai Havertz, he backed into Vicario on the goal-line to leave him planted there.

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Because of this, Bournemouth had clearly done their homework. As seen from Arsenal's first two corners of this game, by 10 minutes, a Cherries player was marshalling White from getting to the goal-line.

This took away White's opportunity for goal-line skullduggery, which Mail Sport columnist Graeme Souness previously described as 'cheating'. 

The right back, in the second half, took up different positions from corner-kicks, including a flick-on from the front post on 58 minutes.

However, in light of the plaudits Arsenal have received for their corner routines, it begged the question: what was the difference in Dominic Solanke's tussle with David Raya in the build-up to Antoine Semenyo's strike, which was disallowed, to what White does at corners?

Not much, if at all. There needs to be some consistency.

Overall White was well-behaved but is a box of tricks, also showing it's not just corners that he has plans for. A few of his throw-ins early on caught the eye, either catching the opposition off guard by quickly distributing the ball while Bournemouth were setting up. Or the sheer distance he could launch the ball, which was impressive.

It was Ryan Christie's conduct that gained the most scrutiny, a high tackle on Bukayo Saka — his studs planting on the winger's knee — escaping any punishment. VAR had deemed the challenge reckless but not dangerous. That was controversial indeed.

Following this, there were a couple of other strong Christie tackles which flew by. It took until the 95th minute for him to receive a yellow card.

So White went under the radar. But nevertheless, required the full attention of his opposition.

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