There’s a new name have played the most minutes for Arsenal this season, meaning Mikel Arteta’s one true undroppable when it comes to naming his strongest starting XI week-in, week-out when he has a fully fit squad available for selection has effectively been revealed.
At the beginning of March, Ben White was certainly proving to be worth every penny of his £50m transfer fee by playing 2,378 minutes of football since arriving from Brighton & Hove Albion – which, at the time, was the most of any player across the Gunners‘ first-team squad.
But after missing wins over West Ham United and Leeds United with a hamstring issue and then not being risked from the bench in the North London Derby loss against Tottenham Hotspur, the 24-year-old has slipped from first to second and it won’t surprise many who has replaced him.
As per transfermarkt, Bukayo Saka is now the Arsenal player with the most minutes this season across all competitions with 3,191 – which is three minutes more than White after he completed the full 90 against Spurs on Thursday night.
Interestingly, even without European football, the Gunners have played 43 games so far this campaign, including the five Carabao Cup games and the one FA Cup tie, and the England international has made the matchday squad for every single one of them – only failing to make an appearance twice.
It’s safe to say Saka has made the most of his minutes this season with 12 goals and six assists which have earned him a Premier League Player of the Season nomination alongside London-based duo Son Heung-min and Jarrod Bowen as well as the likes of Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kevin de Bruyne.
There’s still time for White to reclaim the crown as Arsenal’s most reliable player as he needs to play a minimum of four more minutes than Saka in the final two games of the season.
With that said, he is a doubt for Monday’s fixture away at Newcastle United after not being called upon when Gabriel Magalhaes was pulled from proceedings in the North London Derby.
“To take that risk in the situation of the game made no sense,” Arteta explained.
“Our focus is Newcastle. This game is history. He felt something so hopefully Ben will be fit, and Gabriel will recover as we do not have enough players in the backline. He felt something, so we will have to wait and assess him, but yeah it’s a real issue because now Rob is out as well, and Ben is just coming from injury.”
Although should White miss the game against Newcastle or the home game with Everton then he could drop to third in the list of Arsenal players to have played the most minutes this season as he will almost certainly be overtaken by Aaron Ramsdale provided he’s fit for the remaining fixtures.