When it rains, it tends to pour on Arsenal and Mikel Arteta as yet another squad crisis is on the cards following the 3-0 North London Derby defeat against Tottenham Hotspur.
After losing Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey to long-term injuries before and during last month’s loss away at Crystal Palace, the Gunners could be without another key player for the remainder of the season with Gabriel Magalhaes sustaining a muscle problem in the second half against Spurs.
With Arsenal back in action on Monday night against Newcastle United, manager Mikel Arteta didn’t sound too confident about the Brazilian defender’s chances of making the trip up North: “It’s a muscular injury,” the Spaniard said in his post-match press conference.
“Gabby normally is not a player that asks to come off the pitch.”
Now, when taking into consideration that Rob Holding will be suspended for the game at St James‘ Park and Benjamin White’s fitness being managed carefully amid a hamstring strain, there’s every chance Arteta won’t have a recognised central defender available for selection at St James‘ Park.
Of course, Takehiro Tomiyasu can operate at centre-back.
Who partners him if White isn’t risked for a high-stakes game with Champions League qualification on the line remains to be seen as one of Granit Xhaka or Mohamed Elneny might be called upon to play out of position.
One player who certainly is not an option for Arteta is youngster Daniel Ballard whose season-long loan spell at Millwall has recently come to an end with the Lions missing out on a Championship play-off spot.
There’s more than one reason why the 22-year-old can’t solve Arsenal’s defensive crisis.
London understands the Premier League ruling is that other than the early recall of a goalkeeper in exceptional circumstances, no other player will be permitted to return outside of a window and play first-team football.
Even if this ruling wasn’t in place, the fact that Ballard wasn’t registered in Arsenal’s updated squad list for the rest of the season after the January transfer window closed is another reason as well as the fact that football.
London understands he is currently on holiday after returning from his loan spell which was cut short due to injury.
As a result, it’s looking like the Gunners will have to do everything in their power to get White ready for the Newcastle game otherwise Arteta will be forced into a defensive reshuffle for what is the first of two huge fixtures to win the battle for Champions League qualification.