29 October 2021

Sickness bug sweeps through Arsenal camp ahead of Leicester match

29 October 2021

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed a number of his squad are still struggling with a sickness bug ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Leicester.

The virus saw Pablo Mari ruled out of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round win over Leeds, while Ben White was forced off during the game with Arteta confirming afterwards he had also been suffering with illness.

White has not trained since and could be missing for the early kick-off at the King Power Stadium as Arteta waits to see which of his players remain sidelined through sickness.

Mikel Arteta will be keeping a close eye on his players during training ahead of the trip to Leicester (John Walton/PA) (PA Archive)

“It was a bit of sickness, tummy aches and stuff like that. Hopefully everyone will be OK,” Arteta said.

“He (White) hasn’t trained yet so we will have to wait and see how he is feeling and make the decision then.

“A few have been unable to train and we also picked up some knocks in the game against Leeds as well, hopefully we will have better news.”

Pablo Mari was due to start against Leeds only to be forced to miss out through illness. (Rui Vieira/PA) (PA Archive)

Arteta will hope White can come through the bug to play at Leicester given how his defensive partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes has flourished in recent weeks.

The progression of their understanding has coincided with a run of form which has seen Arsenal win six of their last eight games in all competitions.

White arrived for £50million from Brighton this summer and Arteta has been pleased with what he has seen so far.

“We have different options but obviously we wanted to recruit someone who could straight away, naturally, adapt to the way that we want to play,” he added.

Ben White has impressed since making his Arsenal debut (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

“Ben had all the qualities we were looking for, he is happy to defend in open spaces, he is really good in duals, he has a huge personality to play when we demand to make the process with the ball against different types of press.

“He has the anger, I really liked his character as well when I met him and that is when we made the decision to sign him.”

With White and Gabriel developing well at the heart of the Arsenal defence, the decision to allow William Saliba to leave on loan for Marseille in the summer is looking like a shrewd move.

The 20-year-old has yet to make his competitive debut for the Gunners despite signing from St Etienne in 2019.

Saliba has been putting in some strong displays in Ligue 1 this season and caught the eye in the 0-0 draw at home to Paris St Germain last week – playing his part in keeping the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi at bay.

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Asked if he had seen the game, Arteta replied: “Yes, I did.

“As a club we are always in touch. They went to see that game. Edu (technical director) and Ben (Knapper, loan manager) were there to watch him and keep a close eye on him and the progress he is making.

Saliba will return next year and Arteta believes there is space in his squad for the France Under-21 international despite the form of White and Gabriel.

“I think there is room,” he said.

“Again, it will depend on what happens with other players and that’s not a conversation to have now.

“At the moment he is there and he continues to do what he needs to do, which is play a lot of games and play well.”

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