Good day all. Just 46 days after Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with COVID-19, the boys are back at London Colney to resume training. The world is still very much locked down, thousands are still dying on a daily basis and we are still so far away from any kind of potential vaccine that some are turning to a nightcap of chilled disinfectant, yet Arsenal are back at training.
Although, we must say training is not back to normal. There are very strict procedures in place to ensure the players and staff are as safe as possible. In order to prevent any contamination, the club will be training with each of the players on an individual basis, each with their own ball. All players will arrive to training alone, already kitted up and ready to go. Doors to the surrounding buildings will be locked and the players have been strictly told they are not to socialise.
Unlike your casual Joe Bloggs, I think we can assume the players have remained pretty fit throughout quarantine. The majority have homemade gyms and gardens large enough to set up daily exercise routines with no problem. It’s the match day fitness that will need topping up, something they simply won’t be getting just yet.
Although it is certainly a great sign to see the boys back out there again, it’s unlikely we will see these strict safety procedures relaxed any time soon. Governing bodies throughout Europe’s top leagues are still weighing up the pros and cons of each season ending scenario. You may have seen that Germany’s Bundesliga looks set to return in just a couple of weeks’ time, with matches being played behind closed doors. Yet, across their northwestern border the Dutch have pulled the plug on their season, leaving the 2019/20 Eredivisie season null and void.
In regards to the Premier League, they will, of course, want to follow the German route but their motivation to do so would surely be a financial one and nothing more. Social distancing on the training ground or in the changing room is one thing but how is that remotely possible in a game of football? What happens when emotions run high and two players go toe to toe with each other? What happens when 20 heavily breathing blokes are standing in the 18 yard box awaiting a corner? What happens when Lacazette rifles one into the top bin during the 92nd minute to win the game and is bundled by everyone else in celebration? I imagine that would then mean anyone within 2 metres of those players would have to isolate themselves from their home life. That includes their wives, their children, the general public. Is that really what everyone wants? It’s a tough question and one I don’t see every club, let alone every player, agreeing with.
We all want football back as soon as possible. But I’m just not sure the world is in a state to allow it back just yet. Perhaps the Dutch route is the way forward, to simply start things as they were at the beginning of the season. We would still have European football to look forward to, we would have the opportunity to laugh at Spurs as they fail to get out of their Champions League group and Liverpool fans will still have nothing to celebrate. I don’t know. Let’s just see what happens.
For the meantime the boys are back on the training ground. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
Header Photo: Visit Rwanda, 2019