Arsenal have gone into lockdown after Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with coronavirus late on Thursday night, closing their London Colney and Hale End training centres and entering into emergency discussions with the football authorities about the fulfilment of their forthcoming fixtures. Saturday’s match at Brighton has been postponed and it appears certain that, as a bare minimum, their FA Cup quarter-final at Sheffield United the following weekend will follow.
Arteta had been tested after feeling ill and the result came up positive at around 9pm on Thursday, leading the club to take instant action. The entire first-team squad and coaching staff will now self-isolate for 14 days from the moment they last had close contact with Arteta, effectively meaning they will not be able to train until the final few days of March. Other personnel who have spent time around the head coach will be required to follow suit and the Guardian understands the number who have to self-isolate may reach as high as 100.
Arteta is understood to be feeling optimistic and there are no concerns about his recovery. His primary frustration is the time spent off work but the situation is certain to have enormous implications for a domestic season that has so far barrelled on while others in Europe shut down or are contested behind closed doors. Earlier on Thursday evening the Premier League announced that the weekend’s fixtures would, following the most recent government advice, proceed as planned but that state of affairs now seems untenable.
“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly,” Arteta said in a statement released by the club. “I will be at work as soon as I am allowed.”