Mikel Arteta was “surprised” the Premier League gave Arsenal’s opening game against Brentford the go-ahead after several of his squad tested positive for coronavirus prior to the fixture.
The Gunners, who lost the game 2-0 last Friday, were without strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexndre Lacazette in addition to playmaker Willian and back-up goalkeeper Alex Runarsson, all of whom were self-isolating.
Lacazette and Runarsson will again be missing for Arsenal’s clash against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, although Aubameyang has returned to training while Willian is being assessed.
The Premier League does not have specific thresholds for a number of coronavirus cases to force a fixture postponement, but Aston Villa rearranged matches last season after their squad was hit by a significant number of cases.
“I was surprised but the regulations or the regulators decided the best thing to do was play the game,” Arsenal head coach Arteta said.
“What we did is what we had to do, through the club, through the club doctor as well. He explained the situation, how it developed and the risk that we considered.
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“We had an incredible 48 hours before the match which created a big uncertainty. It was probably an unprecedented Arsenal line-up.”
Arteta said most his players have now been jabbed against COVID-19 but indicated it was not mandatory for the players.
“Most of them are double vaccinated. Others they have one vaccine,” he added.
“We are trying to encourage them to get vaccinated because they are going to protect themselves, their families, obviously the environment around the club.”
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