Mikel Arteta suggested Arsenal are lacking a specified central defender in their academy options at the moment, amid the current centre-back crisis.
With Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White’s fitness status unclear and Rob Holding suspended, Arsenal are potentially in trouble with regards to the centre-back options on Monday night.
It’s not impossible that one or both of the Gabriel-White pairing will be absent against Newcastle United, and Mikel Arteta will have to turn to other options to fill in.
One suggestion was that he might promote one or two of the academy defenders, but Arteta has suggested that might not be their best plan.
“We will have to modify certain positions to try to make it work, because we don’t have more defenders,” Arteta said.
“Even though we have academy players, they haven’t experienced a lot of those positions because they’re not specified central defenders, so it’s something that we will try to find a way.”
Arteta is presumably referring to Zak Swanson, who appears to be the most prominent Arsenal academy defender in the senior plans at the moment. Swanson has now made the Premier League squad on 13 consecutive occasions, though he’s yet to make his debut.
The 21-year-old is primarily a full-back, but he can and has played at centre-back for the u23s in the past. It’s just a different prospect starting a Premier League match out of his favoured position.
It seems Arteta is of the mind that he’d be better off using a senior player out of position.
The Arsenal boss has Granit Xhaka and Takehiro Tomiyasu available, who have both played at centre-back a lot for Arsenal and (in Tomiyasu’s case) for Japan.
If White and Gabriel aren’t fit, it looks like those two are the likely candidates to start.