Gabriel, Saliba and White receive Arteta's praise

Gabriel and William Saliba

Ahead of the game against Chelsea, Mikel Arteta has shown his admiration for his three defensive stalwarts who have started every game in our backline this term.

Gabriel, William Saliba and Ben White have started all 12 of our Premier League games this season, with their impressive displays helping us to a fifth clean sheet of the campaign against Nottingham Forest last weekend.

And with a meeting against a Blues side stacked with goalscoring talent - including none other than a certain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - another solid performance will be necessary if we’re to leave Stamford Bridge with all three points for a third successive occasion.

With Saliba forcing his way into the line-up this summer, Arteta has been thrilled that he and Gabriel have swiftly forged a strong partnership at the heart of defence, even if he isn’t quite sure how due to the language barrier! 

Reflecting on the duo’s start, he said: “I think it’s been really good, really natural and there is a connection, a personal connection. You can feel it - there is a chemistry. I think they make each other better, the qualities that they have and I think they’ve been really consistent in terms of their performances as well.

“[They communicate] between French, English and Brazilian! Sometimes I don’t get it, but they understand each other so it’s fine.”

Ben White

White also came in for plenty of credit from his manager, who was forced to move into the right-back role to accommodate Saliba, but has taken the switch in his stride - a stride that normally sees him joining in with attacks in the final third.

That commanding of the right flank as well as his attitude has again pleased Arteta, who feels the England international’s versatility is crucial with the games coming thick and fast.

“I think he’s really happy there and enjoying it,” he added. “I think he finds there he has a bit of freedom and you can see when he has spaces that he likes to attack, so I think he’s happy there.

“He’s got that capacity. Physically he’s a really special player, he’s very intelligent and very gifted, and he has a lot of courage to play this game. If you tell him to play midfield, he will and give his best.”

Watch the whole of Mikel’s pre-Chelsea press conference, or read our in-depth preview ahead of the London derby

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