Mikel Arteta reveals three defence combinations for Newcastle after Gabriel Magalhaes muscle injury

Gabriel Magalhaes came off injured in the final moments against Tottenham. The Brazilian is a player who rarely will signal to come off the field and Arteta said as much.

Gabriel has been a stalwart of the Arsenal defence forming a strong partnership with Ben White. However, there is a chance that both players will be unavailable for the trip to Newcastle on Monday that Arsenal need to win to help confirm Champions League qualification.

Speaking after the game, Arteta said regarding Gabriel Magalhaes’ status: “I don’t know. Gabi is normally not a player who wants to or asks to come off the pitch, he felt something and hopefully it’s not much, because having Rob out and Ben with no training sessions, obviously we are really short in that position.”

With this in mind, Arteta has a number of choices when it comes to facing Newcastle United. The first assumes that White will be available after making the bench in yesterday’s derby.

The four senior options available are Cedric Soares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, White and Nuno Tavares. A back four of this quartet, should Gabriel not be fit, is most likely the strongest available to Mikel Arteta.

Should White not be fit, however, this is where it gets difficult. Effectively Arteta would have just three senior orthodox options for the minimum four positions. Therefore, players such as Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Bukayo Saka could be used in a back four or five.

All have previously featured in the defence of the Gunners throughout their careers. The most likely would be Xhaka operating in the left centre-back role as a left-footed replacement for Gabriel.

Lastly, Arteta may call upon some of his youth team options. The Gunners cancelled a friendly due to take place today against Farnborough FC. The under 23s Premier League 2 season is over, but they were kept fit if need be, by the senior squad.

Well, that time could have come. The starting centre-halves for the youth team have been Omar Rekik, Alex Kirk and Jonathan Dinzeyi. The latter operates on the left-hand side and is perhaps the most natural fit to replace Gabriel.

However, Rekik is the most senior having played with the Tunisian senior national side at this year’s African Cup of Nations. As Rekik is right-footed, Tomiyasu would be his likely partner to play on the left with the Japanese having comfortability on either side.

Whatever combination Arteta chooses, Tomiyasu, Cedric and Tavares are almost certain to be involved unless both Gabriel and White recover in time. It is a massive game with injuries happening at the worst time. But the Gunners have responded to losing many first-team assets already, and the hope will be they can do so again.

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