Arsenal have put training on hold indefinitely as the coronavirus crisis continues to develop, stating that it would be “irresponsible” to return to action on Tuesday as planned.
Around 100 club employees, including the first-team squad and coaching staff, will complete 14 days’ self-isolation on Monday night after Mikel Arteta’s positive test for Covid-19. Tuesday would have been their first opportunity to train, with the players having received individual fitness plans and equipment in the meantime, but they will continue to work remotely while the situation is reviewed on a daily basis.
“As a result of the current situation we are clear it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to ask the players to come back at this time,” a club statement read. “Therefore our men’s first team, women and academy players are all remaining at home. Stay at home and save lives.”
The decision not to train was taken collectively by Arteta, the managing director Vinai Venkatesham, the head of football Raul Sanllehi and the technical director Edu. It was made upon receiving guidance from the head of medical services, Gary O’Driscoll, who has been at the heart of Arsenal’s strategy for dealing with the virus. Wider government advice on social distancing was foremost among the considerations but there also remain concerns about getting the players together so soon after Covid-19 was detected within the camp.
Arsenal are working on various scenarios for an eventual return but, in the meantime, ensuring the team are informed and acting in the correct manner is a high priority. There is an awareness that players, particularly those from abroad, may take their news from differing sources so the government’s guidelines, as well as other important updates as the wider situation changes, are being communicated to the squad via Whatsapp. O’Driscoll has led that effort, although Sanllehi and the director of football operations, Huss Fahmy, are believed to have been particularly active in staying on top of the messaging.
Arteta has also been in touch with his players. Injured squad members such as Calum Chambers and Lucas Torreira are continuing their rehabilitations via streamed one-on-one sessions with the medical staff. Shad Forsythe, the head of performance, has been integral to drawing up tailored plans while the club decide upon their next move.