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26th Dec 2020

Arsenal explain omission of Willian, David Luiz and Gabriel from matchday squad

Mikel Arteta fielded a youthful starting XI against Chelsea, with Brazilian trio David Luiz, Willian and Gabriel all excluded from the squad

Reuben Pinder

Pablo Mari and Martinelli have come into the starting XI

Willian, Gabriel Maghalaes and David Luiz were all excluded from Arsenal’s matchday squad for their game against Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. Both Willian and David Luiz have attracted a lot of criticism for lacklustre performances in recent weeks, and many Arsenal fans hoped manager Mikel Arteta might have had a change of heart and decided the way to take Arsenal up the table was to stop rewarding old players for bad performances and start giving the youth a chance.

But it turns out the Brazilian trio were omitted from the squad for illness related reasons.

Gabriel was excluded after coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the next three games for the Gunners as a result.

David Luiz and Willian have both tested negative, but are both unwell, the club confirmed in a tweet that followed the line up announcement.

The team that Arteta has chosen to take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea team at the Emirates is as follows: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Pablo Mari, Tierney: Xhaka, Elneny: Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli: Lacazette.

The prospect of seeing the three most exciting prospects at the club combine in attacking midfield has a lot of Gooners excited at a time of despair when optimism is scarce.