Ben White was just not fit, nor ready to play in the game against Spurs during the moment where it would have made sense to bring a central defender on.
As Arsenal’s world began to crumble as Rob Holding was sent off for a second bookable offence in seven minutes, Mikel Arteta decided not to make the switch almost all coaches do when they lose a defender.
It caused a stir amongst fans and pundits at halftime.
Especially considering that soon after the dismissal Arsenal conceded from a corner.
The second in two matches after having previously avoided conceding from them all campaign.
White was the only senior defensive option Mikel Arteta could have chosen.
The under 23s were due to play today before the match was cancelled.
“To take that risk in the situation of the game made no sense,” Arteta explained after the match.
“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.”
So why was White there at all some may ask? As Arteta said, the game was done and dusted after losing the lead and a defender.
Asking White, who had not trained, to come in and play more than sixty minutes of football would have been careless considering that the top four race remains in Arsenal’s hands.
Had the game played out differently White could have been useful.
Had the scoreline been in Arsenal’s favour with just a small portion of the game left, bringing White on would have been worth the risk considering the reward.
Arsenal would have confirmed a top-four place with a win and so having White there as an extra defender had the game fit the circumstances makes sense.
Although difficult to comprehend because he is taking up a space for a potentially fully fit player, the Arsenal squad is very bare right now.
Arteta will be praying that White can return from his issues and play against Newcastle.
Arsenal must win their final two games with the likelihood that Spurs will beat Burnley and Norwich.
There could still be some twists and turns.