The Gunners’ Premier League game at Manchester City on Wednesday night has been postponed after a number of players were placed in self-isolation
Arsenal’s game against Manchester City on Wednesday night has been postponed due to fears over the coronavirus.
The decision was taken after a number of Gunners players were placed in self-isolation having come into contact with Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who announced on Tuesday afternoon that he had contracted COVID-19.
In a statement, Marinakis said: “The recent virus has ‘visited’ me and I felt obliged to let the public know.
“I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and I (adhere) to the doctors’ instructions.
“I strongly advise all my fellow citizens to do the same. I wish all a quick recovery.”
The 52-year-old was at Emirates Stadium on February 27 when Olympiacos knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League.
He watched the game from the directors’ box, visited the away changing room after the match and even celebrated his side’s win out on the pitch with the travelling Greek fans.
And with that having now led to the Gunners’ scheduled Premier League clash at Manchester City being postponed, here’s what we know about the situation so far…
How did the situation begin?
The situation started to develop on Tuesday when Marinakis announced he had contracted coronavirus.
That led to Arsenal issuing a statement themselves, saying no-one at the club had shown signs of any symptoms having come into contact with the millionaire businessman less than two weeks ago.
“Our home match with Olympiacos in the Europa League was played on Thursday 27th February and none of our staff who came into contact with him on that matchday have reported any symptoms since,” the statement read.
“We continue to follow strict protocols with regard to Coronavirus. We’re following the Government health guidelines and have additional procedures in place to protect our players and staff.
“This has included regular deep cleaning of areas used by players at Emirates Stadium and our training centre.”
At that stage, the plan was that the City game on Wednesday night would go ahead.
So what changed?
Following the initial statement, Arsenal continued to seek medical and government advice regarding Marinakis’ visit to Emirates Stadium on February 27.
Those who had been in contact with the Olympiacos owner were traced and it was discovered that a number of players and staff had met him throughout the evening.
Following strict government guidelines, Arsenal were forced to place players and staff members who had been within two metres of Marinakis for around 15 minutes into self-isolation for a period of 14 days from the period of first contact.
That meant that a number of Arsenal players would have been unavailable for selection against City, leading to the match being postponed.
Do we know what players are in self-isolation?
No. Arsenal are not revealing the names of the players deemed to have been in close contact with Marinakis.
Goal has learnt, however, that head coach Mikel Arteta is not one of those at the club who have had to enter into a period of self-isolation.
Will Saturday’s game at Brighton now be postponed?
With the City game postponed, the whole squad has now been given Wednesday off. The players who have not been affected will then train as normal on Thursday, with those who have had to go into self-isolation returning to London Colney to link up with their team-mates for a full session on Friday morning.
The squad will then travel to the south coast together on Friday afternoon and spend the night at a hotel in preparation for the game.
What’s the latest regarding Olympiacos?
The players and coaching staff, as well as the medical team and other members of the club’s technical team, were all tested for the virus on Tuesday and those tests came back negative.
A statement released by the Greek club said: “Olympiacos FC informs that after the required medical exams to which all the members of the football staff (players, coaching, medical and technical staff of the team), as well as all the board members and staff, were submitted, all the tests came out negative for the COVID-19 virus.”
Olympiacos’s home game with Wolves in the Europa League, scheduled for Thursday night, will still go ahead but will be played behind closed doors.