By Noel Whelan

16th May, 2022 | 2:53pm

Chris Wood could terrorise Arsenal after 'huge blow' - pundit

Noel Whelan has backed Chris Wood to “seriously test” the makeshift defence of Arsenal if Ben White and Gabriel can’t take part against Newcastle on Monday (16 May).

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the pair’s potential absence could interfere with the “continuity and rhythm” of the whole Gunners side.

White didn’t take part during the 3-0 defeat against Tottenham last week (12 May), while Gabriel limped off during the second half of the derby loss.

According to The Sun (15 May), both centre-backs missed training on Sunday ahead of the crunch clash against Newcastle on Monday evening.

Arsenal trail rivals Tottenham by two points in the race for Champions League qualification having played a game less.

Whelan tipped Mikel Arteta’s side for a “really tricky night” with a makeshift defence looking increasingly likely.

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“It’s a huge blow for Arsenal,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“They’ve got a really good relationship, and the impact of their absence was clear to see against Tottenham.

“To lose two big centre-halves, it’s crucial. It will mess up that continuity and that rhythm for the whole squad.

“If you have to put midfielders into that defence, or full-backs – you always lose something.

“It’s going to be difficult. Whoever goes in could have a really tricky night up against the likes of Chris Wood – he’s a handful.

“They’ll be seriously tested, so Mikel Arteta will need to come up with a watertight plan.”

Rob Holding is suspended for the trip to St James’ Park after his dismissal in the Tottenham defeat.

Mikel Arteta’s side face relegation-threatened Everton on the final day, while Spurs face basement side Norwich.

In other news, pundit verdict on Arsenal star leaving for West Ham this summer after source latest.