Arsenal vs Chelsea: Gabriel Magalhaes ruled out after close contact tested positive for Covid

Defender will miss Arsenal’s next three games, starting with the London derby against Chelsea, after being required to self-isolate

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Saturday 26 December 2020 17:00 GMT
Gabriel Magalhaes will miss Arsenal’s next three games after a close contact tested positive for Covid-19
Gabriel Magalhaes will miss Arsenal’s next three games after a close contact tested positive for Covid-19 (PA)

Arsenal will be without defender Gabriel Magalhaes for the next three games after the centre-back was forced to self-isolate, having come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The Brazilian was left out of Arsenal’s side to face Chelsea FC on Boxing Day, with Pablo Mari selected to partner Rob Holding in a reshaped four-man defence.

LIVE: Arsenal vs Chelsea

The club quickly confirmed that Gabriel had been ruled out of the match due to a close contact testing positive for coronavirus, and to make matters worse, the 23-year-old will remain unavailable for the ensuing fixtures against Brighton Tuesday and West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 2 January.

The former Lille defender celebrated his birthday on 19 December while suspended, with videos on his Instagram page revealing several people joining him for celebrations before tougher coronavirus restrictions came into force in London and the south-east. It is not clear if one of these people was the person who tested positive, but it will certainly be questioned over how the Brazilian contract Covid-19.

Gabriel sat out the 2-1 defeat by Everton on the same day following his red card in the draw with Southampton, but returned from suspension for the midweek Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat by Manchester City.

Arsenal also confirmed that both David Luiz and Willian were unavailable through illness, although recent Covid-19 test results had returned negative.

With Mikel Arteta’s side desperate for a victory to try and turn their season around and drag them away from the relegation battle, the loss of a first-team player for the next three games is the last thing the Spaniard needed - particularly in the absence of his captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who continues to be sidelined through a calf injury and influential midfielder Thomas Partey still sidelined through a muscular injury.

Team news

Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Pablo Mari, Tierney, Elneny, Xhaka, Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette.

Chelsea: Mendy, James, Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell, Kovacic, Kante, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham, Werner.

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League. Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri - Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.

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