Mikel Arteta has revealed that Arsenal closed their training ground in the build-up to Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Leeds United amid fears that they were facing a Covid-19 outbreak.
The game was the only Premier League match to go ahead on Saturday, with the other five fixtures all being postponed because of concerning numbers of positive tests among squads across the country.
A number of staff members at Arsenal tested positive earlier in the week, while midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga was ruled out of Saturday’s game late on after contracting the virus himself.
Arteta has now confirmed that centre-back Pablo Mari has tested positive as well.
“Pure precaution,” Arteta said, via Arsenal.com, when discussing the training ground closure.
“We had some cases in the staff and we wanted to prevent any issues. Everybody that we’ve seen around us had a few cases and the cases have risen, so we wanted to protect our people and Gary [the club doctor] and the medical staff made the right call to close it for a day, make sure that all the tests from everybody was negative and make sure that when we’re back, everybody is safe.”
On the subject of some players still being unvaccinated, he added, “I’ve already mentioned that we can suggest and guide players to get vaccinated, but it’s a really personal thing to do, and I don’t think that you can push any further than that.
“You have to educate them and try to give them the right information, try to understand the different cultures that we are involved in in football and after that we’ve done really well so far and hopefully, we can continue like that.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that whether a player is vaccinated or not will influence any recruitment decisions the Reds make in January because of the extra risk and potentially problematic additional protocols for unvaccinated players.