Ben White pursuit is a shocking miscalculation of Arsenal’s current squad

““Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.””

– Sir Alex Ferguson

The above quote from the greatest football manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, led Manchester United to an unprecedented two decades of success.

It was an era where United were near unbeatable at domestic level, culminating in 13 Premier League titles and five FA Cups. There were even two Champions League successes thrown in for good measure.

That philosophy also served Arsene Wenger well during the early years of his Arsenal tenure. Sure, there was stability and a rock solidness to the Gunners’ midfield and backline, but ascending to the top of the mountain was all about being the best team going forward.

But those heady days in north London seem an awfully long way away right now. Mikel Arteta’s current incumbents operate at a significantly lower level and for the Gunners manager, sadly, his priorities have laid elsewhere.

When the Spaniard walked into the Emirates Stadium, he was tasked with shoring up a very leaky backline – and for all the criticism levelled at him since arriving in north London, he’s done exactly that.

Mikel Arteta

Arteta has had a lot of thinking to do at Arsenal / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Arsenal conceded just 39 goals in the Premier League last season, with only champions City and top-four finishers Chelsea conceding fewer.

To put that achievement into perspective, six teams have actually managed to win the Premier League title despite conceding 39 or more – yet Arteta’s side could only muster a pretty poor eighth place finish.

So, with such an impressive defensive record, it’s pretty obvious where their problems lie and we’d certainly expect a disciple of ‘the greatest manager ever’ (Pep Guardiola, for those who aren’t aware) to be able to pinpoint exactly where Arsenal need to improve.

That doesn’t seem to the case, though.

Instead, Arsenal are rumoured to be pursuing a deal for Brighton defender Ben White – with reports suggesting the Gunners won’t be deterred by his whopping £40m-£50m price tag .

Ben White is not what Arsenal need right now

Ben White is not what Arsenal need right now / Pool/Getty Images

Now, we get that Arteta has followed many of Guardiola’s coaching principles successfully, but there’s one thing he should have learned not to do from the former Barcelona boss’ managerial handbook. Spend large amounts of money on defenders when your that’s the least of your problems.

To make things worse, Arsenal aren’t as financially privileged as City, meaning when Arteta blows that sort of money on a player who really doesn’t add much to his side, he’ll likely be unable to add to areas of his squad that should be much higher up on his list of priorities.

On paper the Gunners’ attacking options are hardly threadbare and given the right service you’d fancy the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score plenty of goals. Admittedly, the latter hasn’t been in great form of late, but you’d expect him to come good again in the future and with maybe one more quality addition, they could suddenly look a threat again.

Their major problem has been creativity. Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka performed well last season given their tender age, but Arsenal need much more if they’re to challenge for a place in the top four.

The loan signing of Martin Odegaard turned out to be pretty underwhelming, but the Gunners seemed to be on the right track when they were linked with a move for Emi Buendia. Only they decided not to match Aston Villa’s £30m+ bid, presumably because they’re saving up to strengthen on a defender that, well, they could cope without.

The Gunners’ tally of 55 Premier League goals last season was quite frankly woeful for a team hoping to secure Champions League football, and again to add a bit of perspective to that tally, Blackpool were relegated after scoring the same amount in 2010/11 – that’s how poor that is.

Granted the departure of David Luiz means the club should look to bring in another body to bolster their defensive options, but a £50m-rated centre back is the last thing Arsenal need to spend their money on right now. White is a good player, yes, but is a signing that could set the club back years if he arrives.

Denmark 0-1 Finland: Player ratings as football world unites for Christian Eriksen

Finland claimed a 1-0 victory over Denmark in their opening Euro 2020 match, on an evening which saw the football world come together in support of Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen.

The first 45 minutes saw the traumatic event unfold, with Eriksen collapsing near the corner flag in clear need of immediate medical attention. Heroic paramedics administered CPR to the Dane for over 10 minutes on the pitch, while his teammates stood and created a barrier to protect their friend and colleague.

Eriksen was stretchered off the field, and the match was temporarily postponed. However, the game went ahead later in the evening, after news arrived that the 29-year-old was conscious and recovering in hospital.

The second half was understandably played at a slower tempo, but Finland took the lead on the hour mark when Joel Pohjanpalo rose highest to nod home an excellent Jere Uronen cross. Denmark were presented with a chance to equalise from the spot, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s penalty was saved by Lukas Hradecky.

Finland held on to claim a famous victory, on an evening that will not be remembered for the football, but for the wellbeing of Eriksen and the heroic actions of his teammates and medical staff.

At this point, we’d usually rate the players – but out of respect for both teams, there will be no such critique of their displays on an extremely difficult night.

Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel / Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Kasper Schmeichel (GK) – A hero. Unfortunate not to stop the opener, allowing the ball to squirm over the line. It goes without saying that in normal circumstances, he saves it.

Daniel Wass (RB) – Tasked with getting up that right wing and causing some problems, Wass did well on the whole.

Simon Kjaer (CB) – His exploits during the traumatic scenes before half-time speak not only of a man, but a hero. Potentially saved a life with his actions today.

Andreas Christensen (CB) – Did not look quite as assured in the second half – to be expected of such a young man in an awful situation.

Joakim Mæhle (LB) – Did well in the toughest circumstances.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Joel Pohjanpalo

Hojbjerg battling away / Friedemann Vogel – Pool/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen (CM) – Our thoughts are with you, Christian. We wish you a speedy recovery.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (CM) – Had a chance to equalise from the spot, but couldn’t beat Hradecky with his penalty. Continued to battle on, as you’d expect. Not to be judged at all.

Thomas Delaney (CM) – Did his best in trying circumstances, until he was substituted on 76 minutes.

Yussuf Poulsen

Eyes straight ahead / Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Yussuf Poulsen (RW) – Won the penalty with some trickery inside the box.

Jonas Wind (ST) – Dropped in deep to link up the play and bring his teammates into the game. The chances never quite fell his way.

Martin Braithwaite (LW) – Frightened Finland with his speed down the left flank, running directly at the defence and getting shots away.

Mathias Jensen

Subbed on / Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Mathias Jensen (CM)

Andreas Skov Olsen (ST)

Jannik Vestergaard (CB)

Jens Stryger Larsen (RB)

Andreas Cornelius (ST)

Lukas Hradecky

A fantastic performance / Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Lukas Hradecky (GK) – Kept extremely busy early on, pulling off three or four smart saves to stop Finland falling behind. Made an excellent save from the spot to maintain his side’s lead.

Joona Tolivio (CB) – Led the defence well and maintained their shape. Repelled Denmark’s pressure with authority.

Paulus Arajuuri (CB) – Committed the foul for the penalty, although he may feel hard done by. Had his goalkeeper to thank for the big save.

Daniel O’Shaughnessy (CB) – Produced some brave back-post defending to deny Poulsen in the first half. Solid and resolute throughout.

Tim Sparv, Yussuf Poulsen

Sparv on the move / Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Jukka Raitala (RWB) – Stuck to his task and helped supply some ammunition further up the pitch. Effective at both ends.

Robin Lod (CM) – Never far from the action, giving Denmark plenty to think about.

Tim Sparv (CM) – An excellent first half, biting into tackles and intercepting some dangerous passes. Same again in the second.

Glen Kamara (CM) – Very busy and effective in the midfield, putting pressure on Denmark’s central stars. Tidy on the ball.

Jere Uronen (LWB) – Curled in a lovely cross for Pohjanpalo to power home with his head. A famous contribution for his nation.

Joel Pohjanpalo

Respectful celebrations / Martin Meissner – Pool/Getty Images

Joel Pohjanpalo (ST) – A special moment for a player and a nation on a horrific evening. Nice downward header, and did everything right.

Teemu Pukki (ST) – Plugged away up top, dropping in to provide some help to his midfield and to get the ball moving out wide. A typically canny performance from the Norwich star.

Joni Kauko, Andreas Skov Olsen

Kauko was one of the subs / Martin Meissner – Pool/Getty Images

Joni Kauko (CM)

Rasmus Schüller (CM)

Marcus Forss (ST)

Leo Vaisanen (CB)

Gareth Southgate must remain England manager – even if Euro 2020 goes wrong

You can hear the outcry already. “The reason I hate Gareth Southgate is because you just know he’s going to play X and Y instead of A and B, and he’ll set us up to lose.”

The England manager’s head was already on the social media chopping block prior to the Euro 2020 squad announcement, with outraged fans calling him clueless for a player selection that inevitably never happened.

Unfortunately, the discord around Southgate has flipped on its head since the summer of 2018, when we were all rushing to Primark to buy waistcoats and singing about his ability to turn us on.

Now he’s a man who should be sacked for decisions we think he’s going to make, rather than waiting to see what he actually lands upon come the big day. That’s how short some people’s patience is. Southgate is hated for things he hasn’t actually done yet – and probably wouldn’t even do.

Many are waiting for England to fail at Euro 2020 too, just to stick the boot in and say, “IT’S TIME TO GO SOUTHGATE!” Well, they’d still be wrong.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia"Columbia v England"

What an embrace! / VI-Images/Getty Images

The fact is, Southgate stepped into the job when the footballing nation was at its lowest ebb. The FA had just parted ways with a man who drinks pints of wine and tries to land himself punditry work during interviews at relegated clubs, and we didn’t know where to turn.

The Three Lions’ Under-21 boss stepped up – rather sheepishly at the beginning – but has grown into the role of statesman for an entire country. And he’s done plenty right in his tenure thus far. Firstly, he has identified what England’s national team coaches have done wrong in the past, and he has swiftly rectified that.

Hand on heart, have we ever seen a more united and happy England team? Of course, many will say that happiness doesn’t win you tournaments, but think about your own working environment. Everything runs smoother when you’re happy and cracking a few jokes with your favourite colleagues, right.

People will be quick to blast his tactical decisions on the pitch, but one thing we cannot criticise is his ability to manage a group of players. Never has a group of men riding inflatable unicorns brought a nation so much joy.

That’s the chemistry that Southgate has harnessed. And that’s crucial at international level, where morale and togetherness counts for much more than it does at domestic level, where style of play and entertainment value takes precedence.

No national team will ever replicate the football played by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, because they simply don’t have the time to learn such a system. Instead, it’s a group of the 23 best guys (or 26, in this case) pulled together from different corners of the country – and further – who are told to play as a team.

It’s not easy. Southgate knows that, and he knows that as much as we all want to see the very best players flicking one-twos into each other’s path and carving teams open like Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, that just doesn’t happen at international level.

He knows that Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling are all brilliant attacking options, but he also knows that we can’t play them all at the same time.

We need to be pragmatic, and Southgate is prepared to be just that, even if he also knows he’ll take a barrage of abuse for doing so. Think back to Brazil’s 2006 World Cup side when contemplating the difficulties of international football.

The Selecao lined up with Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldo as an attacking quartet. On paper, that team wins every match. Brazil didn’t make it past the quarter-finals. Football, unfortunately, is much more about organisation and solidity than we’d like to believe.

So, on the pitch, Southgate has our best interests at heart, and behind the scenes, no one has done a better job at making ‘England duty’ far from a duty. And as a representative of a nation, he is simply immaculate.

Can you imagine Sam Allardyce attempting to tackle the delicate and inflammatory topics which Southgate has been faced with over the past couple of years? Can you imagine any other manager handling such issues with as much care, thought and honesty as our current boss?

Not at all.

As he so brilliantly put in his open letter to the country, “At home, I’m below the kids and the dogs in the pecking order but publicly I am the England men’s football team manager. I have a responsibility to the wider community to use my voice, and so do the players.”

This is a man who understands what it means to be an England player, understands what it means to be an England manager, and most of all, understands his role in this potential glory. He is so proud to be leading his players into battle, and it’s apparent from their rapport that his troops are proud to be working under him.

That continuity is vital for the national team, and having ushered in this new crop of England starlets, he is the right man to teach them how to thrive on the international scene, while they receive the technical coaching they need to become superstars at their respective clubs.

Southgate is visibly popular among the England squad, and they are prepared to go the distance for him – and so should we. Whether the Three Lions boss fails to bring football home again, or whether he doesn’t turn us on anymore, there is one line that remains true from that Atomic Kitten banger.

He is the one.

Christian Eriksen awake after collapsing during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener

Christian Eriksen is awake and in a stable condition at a Copenhagen hospital after collapsing during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 game with Finland.

The 29-year-old required CPR from medical personnel after falling to the ground unchallenged towards the end of the first half.

Eriksen’s Danish teammates, Finland’s players and all those in attendance were understandably distraught as medical teams attempted to resuscitate him on the field, before the Dane was placed onto a stretcher and taken to a local hospital.

UEFA announced shortly after the game had been suspended, and a further update has provided the news that everybody around the world wanted to hear – Eriksen’s condition has been stabilised. Denmark confirmed shortly afterwards that he is awake and awaiting further tests.

Both teams and match officials held what was described as a ‘crisis meeting’, with further information due to be released later on in the evening once more was known about Eriksen’s condition.

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With Eriksen stable and talking to doctors, the next step was for Denmark’s FA to confirm that the game would restart – at the request of both sets of players – at 20:30 local time (19.30 UK), with the game finely poised at 0-0.

That appears to have been a result of Eriksen talking directly to his teammates from hospital, with Danish FA director Peter Moller confirming a conversation had taken place.

As you’d expect, there was a huge outpouring of support for Eriksen from clubs, players and millions of fans around the world – as well as from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who said in a statement: “Moments like this put everything in life into perspective. I wish Christian a full and speedy recovery and pray his family has strength and faith.

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen is awake and conscious at a hospital in Copenhagen / Friedemann Vogel – Pool/Getty Images

“At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone. I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully.”

Tottenham confirm appointment of Fabio Paratici as managing director

Tottenham Hotspur have unveiled former Juventus chief Fabio Paratici as their new managing director of football.

The 48-year-old left I Bianconeri in the summer after 11 years in Turin, and has long been linked with a move to north London.

His arrival has now been confirmed in a statement on Spurs’ official website, stating that he will be responsible for their ‘sporting operations, facilities and footballing infrastructure.’

“The Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Fabio Paratici as Managing Director, Football, with effect from 1 July 2021.

“Fabio will be responsible for managing and developing the Club’s sporting operations at the Club, facilities and footballing infrastructure. He has many years of experience in assessing the technical-tactical-physical qualities of professional footballers and organising scouting activity.”

Fabio Paratici

Paratici has joined Spurs from Juventus / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Chairman Daniel Levy complimented Paratici’s ‘outstanding track record,’ and expressed his excitement at the prospect of working together.

“I’ve known Fabio for a number of years and he brings with him a wealth of experience in scouting, youth and football operations,” Levy said.

“He has an outstanding track record in assembling competitive squads. As we all know, Juventus have been a highly successful club and he has been a major part of that. He will be a great addition to the management structure. I am delighted that he will be heading up the football side of the club as we look ahead to next season.”

Daniel Levy

Daniel Levy has snared Paratici, but still hasn’t replaced Jose Mourinho / Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Paratici also admitted it is a ‘fantastic opportunity’ and is looking forward to a ‘hopefully successful chapter.’

“I am thrilled by this fantastic opportunity and I thank the club and the chairman for the trust in me,” the Italian confirmed. “Tottenham is one of the top clubs in the UK and in Europe with an ambitious long-term plan. I will dedicate all myself to this new venture and look forward to working with the management team to write a new and hopefully successful chapter in the club history.”