Arsenal said in a statement on Thursday head coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for coronavirus, throwing their next game into doubt.
Mikel Arteta has tested positive for coronavirus and the Arsenal squad are expected to self-isolate, the Gunners have confirmed.
The club said in a statement released on Thursday that its London Colney training centre has been closed as a result of the diagnosis.
Arsenal confirmed staff and players who had “recent close contact” with Arteta would go into self-isolation, which includes the entirety of the first team.
“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with government health guidelines,” a statement from the Gunners read.
“We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.
“We expect those who did not have close contact with Mikel to return to work in the coming days. In the meantime our Colney and Hale End training centres will undergo a deep clean and our other club sites are operating as normal.”
Arteta said: “This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”
Arsenal’s announcement came shortly after the Premier League confirmed this weekend’s fixtures, including the Gunners’ trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, will go ahead as planned.
But following Arteta’s positive test it seems likely Arsenal’s schedule will face further disruption after Wednesday’s game against Manchester City was called off.
That match was suspended after news broke that Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis had contracted coronavirus.
Olympiacos knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League in February and Marinakis was in attendance for the second leg at Emirates Stadium.
Club statement: COVID-19
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 12, 2020
Arsenal indicated they expect further fixture postponements amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates,” the club said.
The Premier League’s announcement that games would continue came after British prime minister Boris Johnson indicated the government was considering postponing sporting events.
However, in response to the news that Arteta had contracted COVID-19, the Premier League called an emergency club meeting for Friday.
Arsenal’s managing director Vinai Venkatesham said: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is. Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits.
“We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”
The club’s head of football Raul Sanllehi added: “Mikel and the full first-team squad, players and staff, will be fully supported, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.
“Obviously Mikel’s full recovery is the priority now for us all.”
Rashford edging closer to full fitness: I feel 10 times better now
He has been out since mid-January but Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford says he is edging closer to a return to training.
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is in a “much better place” than a month ago as he nears a return to full fitness.
Rashford has been out since mid-January due to a back injury, with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying earlier this month the club would not rush his comeback.
The England international is making good progress, though, and suggests he will be ready to resume training once the squad are cleared to go back to work after the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel much better,” Rashford told Sky Sports News. “I have a scan in another couple of days and that should solidify it, but I feel much better compared to two or three weeks ago.
“I feel 10 times better now. For me, now it’s just about getting ready to build back up to training and then playing games for the team.
“I’m in a much better place. I’m much happier than I was about a month ago, so things are looking positive.”
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) March 26, 2020
Rashford says his recent rehabilitation has been carried out at home due to the restrictions put in place to control the impact of COVID-19.
“Everyone is just dealing with the circumstances as well as they can,” he added.
“I’ve just been in my house doing my gym work and recovery, reading books, watching Netflix and just doing what I can do to make the time pass further.
“There’s not really anything you can do that comes close to being in the changing room and being in the team, so I’m not trying to chase that high.
“I had to have time off anyway because of my injury, but I’m fortunate enough to have a bike in the gym downstairs. Not much in that sense has actually changed for me because I can still do my daily routine that I was doing.”
Rashford is also heading up a campaign for the FareShare charity, which aims to raise £100,000 to help supply food to children who usually have free school meals but are currently unable to access them.
“I didn’t know how high the numbers were of kids not eating at home other than school meals. That number kind of shocked me,” Rashford said.
“And then I remember speaking to a friend who was saying there was an opportunity where we can help these people and FareShare allowed us to make it work.
“I don’t think I’ve actually ever done something at such short notice before. I thought let’s try and get to £100,000 and right now we’re on £97,000.”
Coronavirus: Brady admits Liverpool all but own title, reveals West Ham have eight in isolation
Karren Brady has revealed West Ham have eight players showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 – and has made a U-turn over the 2019-20 season.
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has gone back on her previous claim that the season should be voided, saying the title is “all but owned by Liverpool” as the the Premier League aims to return to action.
Brady was criticised earlier this month for suggesting in a newspaper column that the top-flight campaign in England should be declared null and void due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
She was accused of putting her own club’s interests first, with the Hammers only outside the Premier League relegation zone by virtue of goal difference.
Her suggestion riled Liverpool supporters in particular, given the expectation they will claim their first league title in 30 years should the season be completed.
She defended her initial comments, saying she was merely thinking of players and fans amid the coronavirus pandemic, but has now said the Premier League plan to “get going as soon as possible” still stands.
“It is a paradox that at a time football would be a great comfort to millions, it must not be played because, rightly, people’s health is our priority,” Brady wrote in The Sun.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 28, 2020
“What is going on in our country and the world is unprecedented and the game is not a necessity – like food or healthcare.
“But to millions upon millions of us, football’s disappearance from life is very relevant indeed. So, we all want it back in a hurry.
“There’s the Premier League to be decided although, obviously, not the title – which is all but owned by Liverpool.
“But neither the Premier League nor the EFL have finished this season’s games. Plus, there is the FA Cup, continental leagues, European competitions, European Championship and almost everything in between.
“The next Premier League meeting is on Friday and the main topic of conversation will be when games can restart. When we – all Premier League clubs – last spoke, we agreed to get going again as soon as possible. And that games will run into July, if required, to get this campaign finished.
“This is the plan. This is what we want to deliver.”
Brady also revealed eight West Ham players went into self-isolation after showing mild symptoms of the virus.
“Players are currently not in training and housebound to comply with social distancing rules currently in place until April 13, when we expect training to restart,” she added.
“And following further Government guidelines, we have eight West Ham players in isolation. Although I am relieved to say they are all showing mild symptoms and, along with their families, seem to be well.”
Liverpool v Atletico going ahead was a ‘criminal act’
Carlo Ancelotti has revealed Jurgen Klopp had concerns over the decision for Liverpool v Atletico Madrid to go ahead at a full Anfield.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt staging the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid at Anfield without restrictions earlier this month was a “criminal act”, according to Carlo Ancelotti.
Everton head coach Ancelotti has spoken with Klopp amid the coronavirus pandemic and said the German had concerns over his side’s continental fixture going ahead in front of a full stadium on March 11.
Liverpool went out of the Champions League after the second leg of their last-16 tie ended in a 4-2 aggregate defeat, their last match before top-level football was widely halted due to the outbreak.
Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport: “I heard from Klopp the other day, he told me that going ahead with the game in those conditions was a criminal act. I think he was right.”
Former Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Milan boss Ancelotti predicts there will be an economic “downsizing” after the virus has passed, with football feeling the effects of that.
“We are all living a life that we were not used to and that will change us profoundly,” he said. “I’m sure we will all have to downsize, starting with football.
“Today, the priority is health, limiting the contagion. When you start again, when you finish, the dates – believe me, I don’t care. At the moment, that’s the last thing on my mind.
“I hear talk about cutting salaries, suspension of payments. They seem like inopportune solutions.
“Soon the economy will change, and that’s at all levels: The TV rights will be less, players and coaches will earn less, tickets will cost less because people will have less money.
“I repeat, what matters now is to fight the virus effectively. Then, of course, if it will be possible to continue the season… otherwise, amen.”
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