Ben White was expected to make his second Arsenal appearance after debuting against Brentford on the opening day of the Premier League season – but he has been ruled out of facing Chelsea
Arsenal have been dealt yet another blow ahead of their vital clash with Chelsea as Ben White has been ruled out of the London derby.
White, 23, was expected to make his second appearance for the Gunners after debuting in the 2-0 defeat at Brentford on the opening day of the Premier League season.
Manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu identified the England international as the ideal candidate to shore-up Arsenal’s defence before sanctioning a £50million transfer from Brighton.
But Arteta’s side will have to cope without White for the visit of the European champions on Sunday afternoon, as he was taken unwell before the match.
The news of White’s absence, as first reported by The Athletic , comes at a time when Arsenal’s squad has been left threadbare by injuries and illness.
Midfielder Thomas Partey and forward Eddie Nketiah are unavailable due to knocks and four players have been out of the frame due to coronavirus.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the trip to Brentford last Friday but returned to training at Arsenal’s London Colney base on Saturday.
“Auba is now negative on COVID-19 testing, is well and following all protocols for return to play,” said Arteta of the Gabonese striker. “He will return to training and be assessed prior to Sunday’s match.”
Striker Alexandre Lacazette remains unavailable after he also tested positive for coronavirus, while Chelsea will be without forward Christian Pulisic for the same reason.
But Blues boss Thomas Tuchel will have club-record signing Romelu Lukaku available for selection after the Blues signed the striker from Inter Milan for £97.5million.
Can Arsenal earn a positive against Chelsea even in the absence of Ben White? Have your say in the comments.
Tuchel has been boosted by timely returns to fitness for midfielder N’Golo Kante and winger Hakim Ziyech.
“With Christian, it’s unfortunately very easy to explain,” said the German manager. “He had a positive test and needs to follow the protocols so he won’t be available for the game.
“Hakim and N’Golo were both in training today and they had no problems. We need to have a more intense session tomorrow with them and the team before we decide but right now it seems positive that both can be in the squad for Sunday.”
Turning his attention to Lukaku, Tuchel added: “We have one more training session to go but the week was a heavy load for him because he was in the group with the late starters from our guys so it was an overload week so far.
“Today [Friday] was lower intensity and tomorrow we have important training for the match but we are hoping he will be on the pitch for Sunday and things look like it.”