Arsenal took on Chelsea in the English Premier League on Saturday and the trio of David Luiz, Willian and Gabriel did not make it to the matchday squad.
The squad selection from manager Mikel Arteta came as a surprise to everyone with the likes of Smith-Rowe and Pablo Mari in the starting line-up for such a crucial London Derby.
But speaking ahead of the match, Arteta explained why such key players were not eligible to play vs the Blues.
“David and Willian, they were feeling unwell, but they both tested negative [for Covid-19], but following the protocols we have kept them away,” Arteta told Sky Sports, as reported by Football London.
“With Gabriel he was in touch with somebody who has tested positive, so following the protocols as well. He needs to be out.
“It is what it is in this Covid world, this can happen to any team, it’s happened to us now at a really bad time, but that’s the reason why we have other players.”
With Willian and David Luiz testing negative for the virus, they should be back into the squad when Arsenal take on Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Tuesday.
As for Gabriel, the defender will have to isolate for the next 10 days as per Government rules meaning he is set to miss the next two games for the Gunners.