Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, the club said on Thursday, prompting the Premier League to announce an emergency meeting on Friday.
Arsenal’s first-team squad are set to self-isolate as a result of Arteta’s status and the club’s Hale End training centre has been temporarily closed.
Brighton & Hove Albion, who were scheduled to play Arsenal on Saturday, announced that the match had been postponed.
The Premier League had issued a statement earlier on Thursday saying that “all Premier League matches will go ahead as scheduled this weekend” but they are facing pressure to suspend the season.
“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines. We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff,” Arsenal said in a statement.
The Arsenal announcement came after Spanish club Real Madrid said on Thursday that their team were in quarantine after one of the club’s basketball players tested positive.
Players and staff of Italian champions Juventus are also in quarantine after defender Daniele Rugani tested positive on Wednesday.
Arsenal said they expected those who did not have close contact with their Spanish manager to return to work in the coming days and that their training centres would undergo a deep clean.
“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,” said the club’s head of football Raul Sanllehi.
“It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates.”
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers, who has three players in self-isolation after showing symptoms of the virus, said the season should be now stopped.
“There is absolutely no doubt, from a logical perspective. There’s the public health and ethical side as well,” he said.
“Players could be going into games and they could be unclear if opposition players are infected. You think of how it all connects with the throw-ins. Ultimately there should be no risks taken in the public’s health which is key,” Rodgers added.
Arteta, 37, who joined Arsenal in December after working as assistant coach to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, said he had felt ill prior to taking the test.
“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed,” he said.
Arsenal’s Premier League game at Manchester City scheduled for Wednesday was postponed after the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who the Gunners played in the Europa League, had contracted the virus.
Arsenal said a number of their players had met Evangelos Marinakis after the game on Feb. 27.
Reuters | LONDON