Arsenal endured a chaotic build-up to their return to Premier League action after three players missed three days of training due to a suspected ‘false positive’ coronavirus test, it has been revealed.
The Gunners have endured a poor start, losing to Manchester City and Brighton, while Pablo Mari, Bernd Leno and Granit Xhaka have all picked up serious injuries in their opening fixtures.
And now The Athletic have reported that it has been even worse for Mikel Arteta’s side behind the scenes after an extraordinary few days of Covid-19 testing.
It has been revealed that a week before the Premier League restart, one Arsenal star tested positive for coronavirus and was told to self-isolate for seven days. What’s more, the player had also come into enough ‘close contact’ with a further two members of the squad they they too had to enter a 14-day period of quarantine.
While the official Premier League test returned positive for the initial player, Arsenal suspected that given negative results across the board in the previous round of testing, it was likely to be a ‘false positive’ result.
With the top-flight restart fast approaching, Arsenal officials took private samples on the Saturday and Sunday before their Wednesday kick-off against Manchester City, to check whether the player had the virus (the antigen test) or had previously contracted it (the antibody test). Both came back negative, it is reported.
Government guidelines stipulate that a negative antigen test means you can stop self-isolating, but as this was an in-house test and not the official testing procedure, it was not approved by the Premier League.
The three players, therefore, then had to wait until the Monday for the next round of official testing, and 24 hours later were told that they had all returned negative.
They were given the green light to return for a 5pm training session on Tuesday, but this was the first time in four days they could join with their team-mates and was hardly ideal preparation for their opening match against Manchester City the following day.
The Athletic report that all three players involved travelled with the team to the Etihad and played a part in proceedings on the Gunners’ opening matchday.
Arsenal’s two defeats at the start of Project Restart leaves them lagging in 10th position in the top flight, six points off Manchester United in fifth and a mammoth 11 points off the Champions League places.