Arsenal are gearing up for the most important North London Derby since 2004, in which they won the Premier League title at White Hart Lane, with UEFA Champions League football being up for grabs in Thursday's trip to Tottenham.
Unfortunately, two of the Gunners' most crucial players are doubts for the highly-anticipated midweek affair. Mikel Arteta revealed this concerning update during his pre-match press conference, announcing that both Ben White and Bukayo Saka could miss the upcoming match.
The English center-back was ruled out for his side's last two fixtures, the 2-1 victories over West Ham and Leeds, due to a hamstring issue. In his absence, Rob Holding was called back into the starting eleven and has held his own. However, White is the Gunners' best ball-playing defender and will thus be missed if he is unavailable for the Spurs game.
As for Bukayo Saka, he limped off in the 2-1 victory over Leeds, as he did in the trip to West Ham. However, no one expected the Three Lions ace to be a doubt as well as he appeared to be fine over the weekend. Nonetheless, Arsenal fans will be praying their brilliant winger will be ready for Thursday's trip.
"With Ben he is still a doubt, we have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better. With Bukayo it's the same," the Spanish manager said, as per the club's official website.
The visitors are already without two of their best players in the form of Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey. The Scottish left-back has been ruled out for the rest of the season while the Ghanaian midfielder has only an outside chance of returning to the pitch in time for the final game of the campaign.
As a result, Arsenal fans are understandably concerned ahead of this crucial clash with their neighbors. While the consensus is that Ben White and Bukayo Saka should be fine for the tie, Arteta will need both players to be at 100 percent if they are to get anything from the showdown.
Victory on Thursday would secure a top four finish for the Gunners, hence the importance of this North London Derby. Given their four-point lead over Tottenham, even a draw would suffice as Arteta's side would simply need to win one of the two remaining games – a trip to Newcastle and a home match against Everton – to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Defeat, however, would leave them with a mere one-point advantage with two games to go.