Mikel Arteta explains decision not to use Ben White after Rob Holding red card

Mikel Arteta is running short of defensive options ahead of the last two games of the season

Mikel Arteta is running short of defensive options ahead of the last two games of the season (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta insisted he made the right decision in resisting the temptation to press Ben White into emergency action against Spurs last night.

Arsenal missed the opportunity to cement Champions League qualification and suffered a catastrophic 3-0 defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals and closest challengers for fourth place.

Arteta must now pick up the pieces ahead of Monday’s game against Newcastle and consider the composition of what will be a makeshift defence.

Ben White was an unused substitute for Arsenal against Tottenham

Ben White was an unused substitute for Arsenal against Tottenham (Picture: Getty)

Rob Holding’s suspension, incurred for a moment of madness after he picked up two bookings in the space of seven minutes, will rule him out of the trip to St James’ Park, while Gabriel Magalhaes is a major doubt after he limped off with an apparent hamstring strain in the second half.

Summer signing White has missed the last three matches after he picked up a muscular injury in the recent win over Manchester United and although he returned to the matchday squad, he wasn’t risked last night even with Arsenal desperately short of defensive options.

‘To take that risk [of bringing on Ben White] in the situation of the game made no sense,’ Arteta explained afterwards when asked why he refused to gamble on the £50million summer signing from Brighton.

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‘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 (back) from injury,’ Arteta added when asked for an update on Gabriel.

Arsenal could yet appeal Holding’s red card and suspension and Arteta admitted he would consider all options ahead of the game at St James’ Park.

He said: ‘I don’t know (if we will appeal), I will speak to the club and let’s see how we feel about it and what options we have.

‘We always defend our club in the best possible way, so we will look at the options that we have.’


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