Speaking after Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Sunday afternoon (via the Evening Standard), Mikel Arteta revealed that Ben White, who missed the fixture due to a hamstring injury sustained in the 3-1 win over Manchester United a week prior, could be in line to make a return to action against Leeds this weekend – with the centre-back’s predicted return date being May 8.
Regarding the defender’s absence against the Hammers, the Arsenal manager said: “Ben got injured against Manchester United, he felt a muscular problem and we checked him, and we will have to assess him in the next few days to see how he is.”
Considering Leeds’ mounting injury concerns of their own – with Stuart Dallas being ruled out for the season after fracturing his kneecap in the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City, as well as Liam Cooper missing the game after sustaining his own knee injury in the warmup to the fixture – the news that Arsenal could be boosted by the return of White ahead of Sunday’s clash is sure to have left Jesse Marsch livid.
Indeed, following his £50m move to The Emirates last summer, the 24-year-old has highly impressed over his 31 Premier League appearances, helping Arsenal keep 13 clean sheets, in addition to making an average of 1.4 interceptions, 1.4 tackles, 3.1 clearances and winning 4.4 duels – at a success rate of 59% – per game.
As such, it is clear to see just how important a player the £36m-rated England international is within the Arsenal defence, with the former Leeds loanee’s potential return ahead of Sunday’s meeting sure to come as a huge blow to the Whites’ chances of leaving north London with all three points.
And, following Everton’s 1-0 win over Chelsea last weekend – a result that saw the 18th placed Toffees climb to within two points of Leeds – Marsch’s side will be looking for any marginal gains they could possibly take advantage of ahead of their trip to the capital, something which White’s potential return is certainly not.