In comments made following the Gunners’ 2-1 victory over Leeds United on Sunday (via football.london), Mikel Arteta revealed that Ben White – who has missed the club’s last two league fixtures due to a hamstring injury picked up against Manchester United – is on course to make a return to action at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this week.
When asked whether the centre-back will be available for selection on Thursday, the Spaniard said: “I think so, he’s been starting to do a little bit of work now on the pitch and we want everybody available because we know that game is so important.”
Considering the magnitude of this week’s North London Derby, the news that Arsenal look set to be boosted by the return of a player as important and White is sure to have left Antonio Conte fuming.
Indeed, over his 31 Premier League appearances this season, the £36m-rated England international has been incredibly solid in the heart of Arteta’s defence, helping his side keep 13 clean sheets, as well as 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.
These metrics have seen the £120k-per-week centre-back average a highly impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.94, ranking him as Arsenal’s joint tenth-best performer in the top flight of English football.
As such, it is clear to see that White’s return would come as a huge blow to Tottenham’s chances of picking up all three points from their meeting with the Gunners, with anything but a win against their most fierce rivals all but ending Spurs’ chances of securing a top-four finish in the league this term – and subsequently playing Champions League football next season.