Arsenal's defensive crisis laid bare ahead of Newcastle United trip – three out and two doubts for Mikel Arteta
Three key Arsenal players will be facing late fitness tests ahead of Monday night’s visit to Newcastle United (8pm kick-off).
The Gunners are chasing a top four spot and will travel to face a Newcastle side who confirmed their Premier League status this week.
Eddie Howe’s side have won six of their last seven matches at St James’s Park but have not beaten any of the division’s top seven sides in 13 attempts so far this season.
Mikel Arteta’s side will be dusting themselves off from a 3-0 North London derby defeat to rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday evening.
The match saw defender Rob Holding dismissed following two yellow cards in the first half. He will now miss the trip to St James’s due to suspension. And in the closing stages, fellow centre-back Gabriel was forced off with a hamstring problem.
With Ben White (thigh) only fit enough to make the bench at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Arsenal are facing somewhat of a defensive crisis ahead of Monday’s match.
Following the defeat against Spurs, Arteta provided an update on Gabriel’s injury: “It’s a muscular problem, and we’ll have to assess him.
“Gabi is normally not a player who wants to or asks to come off the pitch, he felt something and hopefully it’s not much, because having Rob out and Ben with no training sessions, obviously we are really short in that position.”
Despite the injury, Arteta chose not to risk White as he told Sky Sports: “To take a risk in the situation of the game, it was not worth it.
"Now, we focus on Newcastle – hopefully Ben is fit."
Arteta refrained from commenting on the red card incident as he felt he would face a touchline bad had he aired his true feelings on the decision.
Aside from Holding’s suspension and Gabriel and White being doubts, Arsenal will be without midfielder Thomas Partey (thigh) and left-back Kieran Tierney (knee) on Monday with the pair being ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Newcastle have several fitness concerns themselves with Ryan Fraser (hamstring) facing a late fitness test and Jonjo Shelvey (calf) and former Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock (knee) ruled out.