Arsenal defender Daniel Ballard spoke on the Fancy A Kickabout podcast about what it’s like training under Mikel Arteta.
The 21-year-old joined Blackpool on loan earlier in the season but before that, he trained regularly with the first team.
Ballard was there when Arteta came in to replace Unai Emery and he claims that one of the first things that the Arsenal boss demanded from his centre-halves in training shocked him.
Arteta has been an advocate of playing out from the back. He wants his defenders to be excellent with the ball and wanted all of his centre-backs to be comfortable with their feet – even in training. That made Ballard really uncomfortable.
“It was a big shock,” he said.
“When I was training with the first team and what Arteta was asking from the centre-backs, there were somethings I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with.
“I generically describe myself as an old-fashioned centre-half who loves defending and heading the ball and tackling. But, that’s not enough in the Premier League. So, that’s been one thing I’ve been trying to work on.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
Defenders in the past only had to keep the ball away from their goals. The modern game has changed everything and the centre-halves are now required to play a big part in starting attacks.
Playing out from the back certainly has its risks as we all saw on Saturday. However, the rewards are much bigger if the defenders can execute it properly, and Ballard has to learn that ASAP.
The youngster is having a very impressive season at Blackpool so far. He is still far away from being a first-teamer, but a good end to the season followed by an impressive pre-season could catch Arteta’s eye.