Mikel Arteta has confirmed that all Arsenal’s first team squad are Covid clear as he prepares his side for Wednesday’s clash with West Ham United at the Emirates.
In light of the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK, the club, guided by the Premier League, have put additional safeguards in place at the training ground in a bid to minimise the chance of an outbreak like those that have forced the postponement of matches involving Sp*rs and Manchester United.
In a press conference dominated by the news that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the captaincy and faces a spell out of the team, Arteta at least struck a positive note on the team news front.
“The rest is good,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “Hopefully, we’ve had all the negative tests with the players.
“Obviously that’s a big concern with everything that is happening in the league and in the country. Hopefully, everybody will be available and fit.”
He later reaffirmed: “We haven’t had any players testing positive.”
As things stand, that means Sead Kolasinac and Bernd Leno are the only two absentees. The Bosnian is working his way back from an ankle injury while our German keeper sat things out on Saturday due to a groin issue.
Tomorrow’s clash at the Emirates will be the first where supporters are expected to produce either a Covid Pass or proof of a negative lateral flow result to gain entry into the stadium.
While there are no suggestions at this point that the UK government will further tighten the restrictions introduced as part of its “Plan B”, it’s hard not to think back to earlier in the year when Covid forced football matches to be played behind closed doors.
Asked if he’s worried about that happening again, Arteta said: “Everything that happened this week is a really worrying time. Games have been cancelled and postponed for those reasons, players and staff members [are] with really high numbers of positive tests, so yeah, it’s really worrying.”