Ben White has Covid-19 and forced to miss Chelsea clash as Arsenal suffer blow

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Mikel Arteta has been dealt a blow ahead of his side's home meeting with Chelsea with Ben White missing out after testing positive for Covid.

The defender, who signed from Brighton for £50million earlier this summer, is unavailable for the game due to illness and joins a growing list of absentees at the Emirates.

Thomas Partey, Gabriel and Eddie Nketiah are all injured, whilst Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both missed last weekend's loss to Brentford after testing positive for Covid.

Arsenal confirmed White was also missing due to the virus, though Aubameyang was back in the squad.

White made his debut in the 2-0 loss at newly promoted Brentford and Arteta will now be forced to rotate in his absence.

White's absence adds to Arteta's worries with up to six of his first team players having been struggling with illness and injuries in recent weeks.

Partey [ankle], Gabriel [knee] and Nketiah [ankle] all remain out injured, while Aubameyang and Lacazette missed the Brentford defeat due to Covid.

White made his Premier League debut for the club last Friday and had a tough time up against former Peterborough team-mate Ivan Toney.

Arteta has defended his new centre-half this week, however, stating that "Yes, he can improve [in the air], but he won many duels against him [Toney] in the game as well.

"You are highlighting the ones he didn't win but Toney will win headers against any defender in this league because that's a big quality of his.

"You have to accept that it's an area of the pitch where if you concede those headers, it obviously becomes more dangerous for the team. But he had a good debut."

White and team-mate Bukayo Saka were both members of the England squad that reached the final of the Euros this summer and as a result received extended summer breaks.

Saka started on the bench at Brentford but did come on in the second half, while White played the full 90 minutes.

"He hadn't trained a lot. Bukayo Saka couldn't feature from the start and he was in the same training plan as Ben but Ben made a big effort.

"Physically, he's still not where he needs to be, but I think he has had a positive start. Ben is an exceptional defender.

"He can play in a back four, he's very comfortable playing in a back three, he's got the league experience, he's quick, he's agile, he's really aggressive in duels.

"And then, with the ball, he's got special qualities that I needed for the way we play, to make all the processes better and for us to be composed and dominant in games we want to be."

White has been replaced in the Arsenal line-up by Rob Holding, who was an unused substitute in their opening day loss at Brentford.

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