Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Arteta ready to make late call on Arsenal defenders after ignoring Conte barb

SoccerNews in English Premier League 14 May 2022

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Mikel Arteta is keen to focus on the future rather than Arsenal’s midweek defeat to rivals Tottenham, although that match has left him with a real problem at centre-back.

Arsenal went down 3-0 to Spurs on Thursday, increasing the pressure on Arteta’s side, who are one point ahead of their fifth-placed neighbours in the top four with two Premier League games remaining.

The first of those is away to Newcastle United on Monday, by which point Tottenham will have played Burnley and could be fourth.

And Arsenal may head into that match without a single senior centre-back. Rob Holding was sent off at Spurs and is suspended, while Gabriel Magalhaes went off injured. Ben White, on the bench last time out, was not considered fit enough to bring on.

Speaking on Saturday, Arteta acknowledged any decision on Gabriel and White would have to go to the wire.

“We will have to modify certain positions to try to make it work because we don’t have more defenders,” he said.

“And even though we have academy players, they haven’t experienced those positions a lot because they are not specified central defenders. It’s something we’ll try to find a way [to solve].”

Arteta added: “Tomorrow [Sunday] will be the day when we will have better answers [on Gabriel and White] – probably not the answers that we want on matchday, but hopefully better answers.

“We’ll probably know more tomorrow, so we wanted to extend this period as much as possible to understand how they are recovering, how they are feeling, assess them, and tomorrow we’ll probably know more about how they are.”

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