Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, the Spaniard revealed that it remains uncertain as to whether the former Brighton man will be fit to feature against Antonio Conte’s side, having been absent since the win over Manchester United at the end of April.
Asked about the injury latest regarding his squad, the Gunners boss stated that: “Thomas [Partey] is still out, Kieran [Tierney] is still out, “Ben [White] is a doubt. We’ll have to assess him he’s feeling much better and Bukayo [Saka] is the same.”
The 40-year-old went on to add that it will be a close to call as to whether both White and teammate Bukayo Saka will be able to feature: “Very difficult to rate (a chance) with injuries, it’s just how they feel today,” he said. “That’s the last day we can assess them so we’ll have to see.”
White has missed the wins over both West Ham United and Leeds United due to a hamstring injury, while Saka was withdrawn late on against the Elland Road outfit. Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney remain on the sidelines.
Arteta will be praying that the England centre-back will be fit to feature at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with it set to be a titanic tussle between two bitter rivals going toe-to-toe in the race to secure fourth spot.
For the Gunners, however, the motivation is clear, with a win confirming their Champions League qualification ahead of their north London neighbours, with the Emirates outfit currently four points clear and with just two games left to play following the meeting with Spurs.
The club are on the cusp of a return to Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2017 following a largely promising season, although defeat would ensure a nail-biting end to the campaign.
Should White be absent for that encounter, it would no doubt serve as an almighty blow, with the 24-year-old having been in imperious form since his £50m arrival last summer.
The £36m-rated man, previously dubbed “exceptional” by pundit Jamie Redknapp, has been a real force of nature at the back so far this term, averaging 3.1 clearances, 1.4 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per 90, while also winning a solid 59% of his total duels and keeping an impressive 13 clean sheets from 31 league outings.
Comfortable as both a central defender and at right-back, the £93k-per-week gem also offers his manager valuable versatility and flexibility, with his ability to also feature as part of a back three – as he did under Graham Potter last term – potentially useful up against Conte’s 3-4-3 system.
It would appear, however, that the one-time Leeds loanee faces a race against time to be fit, with it simply set to be a case of crossing fingers ahead of a game of such long-term importance. Should he miss out, though, the manager will understandably be gutted.