Mikel Arteta saw it all come tumbling down on Thursday. His side were trailing 1-0 before Rob Holding’s stupid challenge on Heung-min Son saw him earn a second yellow card, plunging an already thin squad into a position of real uncertainty.
His one-match suspension means that he will miss Monday’s game, news that was added to by a worrying injury to Gabriel.
The Brazilian defender fell to the turf in the second half clutching the back of his thigh, an injury that will rule him out for the remainder of the campaign. The problems mount up for Arsenal.
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Newcastle: Benjamin White & Takehiro Tomiyasu as a centre-back pairing in a 4-2-3-1 shape?
Benjamin White was fit enough to make the bench at Tottenham despite having not trained in the days leading up, and fortunately it does appear as if he will be back in time for the game in what is expected to be a patched up defence.
Depending on how trusted Nuno Tavares is, there is also a chance that Xhaka features in his 153rd different position this season and moves into the heart of defence. Against Callum Wilson, that could be a worry, mind.
The manager did also give some nods to his selections in the game against Spurs, withdrawing Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah early on in the second half, although two games are the same and Newcastle will pose different challenges than Thursday.
How will Arteta line his team up for the biggest game of their season?
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – It remains the case that seemingly every shot Ramsdale faces results in a goal. He could do nothing about the three against Tottenham, although he did make one fine stop in the second half.
Cedric Soares (RB) – From Son to Saint-Maximim. Cedric looks set to play at right-back again with a different challenge facing him this time.
Benjamin White (CB) – Having been stripped and ready to come on at Spurs it does hint that White is ready, and with training over the weekend that shouldn’t be a worry.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (CB) – His versatility is going to be essential for Arsenal as he looks likely to play in the position he does for the Japan national team.
Nuno Tavares (LB) – A decent enough cameo from Nuno might have given him a small boost of confidence for Monday, in a game he looks certain to start in.
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