Mikel Arteta, whose infection with the coronavirus in March 2020 prompted the shutdown of English professional football for three months, has tested positive for the virus again.
This time the show goes on, for the time being at least, and Arsenal will thus visit Manchester City on New Year’s Day without their manager.
Arteta is the third Premier League manager to be sidelined with COVID-19 in this festive period with Steven Gerrard (Aston Villa) and Patrick Vieira (Crystal Palace) also quarantined.
Under English government guidelines the Spaniard will be in isolation for a minimum seven days.
The surge in infections caused by the Omicron variant has resulted in the postponement of 19 of the 28 Football League fixtures scheduled for Wednesday and Newcastle’s Premier League visit to Everton on Thursday.
In March 2020 Arteta’s positive diagnosis initially led to the postponement of a Premier League match at Brighton, then, after a meeting between the leagues, and evidence of more cases, a complete shutdown.
The Premier League and second-tier Championship resumed in mid-June The leagues below them, and the women’s game, abandoned the season.
So far this campaign 16 Premier League matches have been postponed due to player shortages caused by the pandemic.The impact is not just being felt in lost matches. Ralf Rangnick, Manchester United’s new manager, said the virus had delayed the team’s progress under him.
United have won two and drawn two under the German who, when asked if he had achieved his targets, said: “”Of course not. Every coach, every ambitious coach wants to take faster steps and larger steps forward.
“But in order to do that, you need to be able to train.
“We had to close Carrington (training ground) for four days. Before that we had eight or nine outfield players in training, so directly after the Norwich game, and they only came back in small bits and pieces.
“The last three days we were almost back to full strength with regard to the size of the squad, but we couldn’t do that much in training.”
In Spain four Real Madrid players have tested positive for coronavirus – Thibaut Courtois, Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde and Vinicius Junior – bringing the number of the club’s players known to be infected during December to 12. Each had been out of Spain during the Christmas break.
Barcelona have six players currently in quarantine with Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Gavi the latest to test positive.
La Liga resumes on January 2 with Real Madrid at Getafe and Barcelona at Real Mallorca. So far, despite infections earlier this month, no match in the competition has been postponed for Covid.