Arsenal’s restart preparations were hampered after positive coronavirus test saw three players pulled from training

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta contracted the virus all the way back in March (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal’s poor performances following the resumption of the Premier League season could be a result of their less-than-ideal preparations, with three players forced to withdraw from training after a positive coronavirus test last week.

The Gunners have recorded back-to-back defeats since football returned, first suffering a comprehensive 3-0 loss at the Etihad in midweek before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat against Brighton on Saturday.

But according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, their preparations for that first match against Manchester City were thrown into disarray after an extraordinary series of events.

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Arsenal have suffered losses against Manchester City and Brighton (Picture: Getty)

Just a few days earlier, Arsenal were informed by the Premier League that one of their players had tested positive for coronavirus and needed to self-isolate for seven days – ruling him out of the City clash.

To add to that problem, the player in question had spent enough time alongside two of his teammates to classify as ‘close contact’, meaning they needed to quarantine for 14 days.

However, with none of the players in question showing any symptoms, and having not had any players test positive for Covid-19 in previous rounds of testing, Arsenal suspected a false positive.

The club took it upon themselves to get the player tested again privately, both the antigen and antibody test, and both came back negative – though as this was ‘in-house’ testing it was not approved by the Premier League.

They therefore had to sit out training for several days until the next round of testing, on the Monday before they played Man City, and this time the trio’s tests all came back negative and they were finally allowed to return to training at 5pm on Tuesday, the final session on the evening before the game.

All three players are believed to have travelled to the Etihad and been involved in the matchday squad, though having them absent in such a crucial period before the match, coupled with the doubts over whether they could play, significantly affected Mikel Arteta’s preparations.

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Arsenal have lost three key players to injury since the season resumed (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal’s hopes for the run-in were affected even more just a minute into that clash against City when Granit Xhaka had to be withdrawn with an injury, while centre-back Pablo Mari followed soon after.

‘Everything went wrong from the first minute when Granit got injured and we had to change the plan a little bit,’ said head coach Arteta, who contracted coronavirus back in March, after the game.

‘Every possible accident that could have happened hopefully happened today, not in the remaining 10 games that we have ahead of us.’

Unfortunately for the Gunners, their bad luck with injuries continued at the weekend against Brighton, with Bernd Leno – who has been the club’s outstanding player this season – suffering what appears to be an ACL injury, which would rule him out for a long time.

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