REVEALED: Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Brentford was just HOURS from cancellation after three players reported feeling ill before the match, forcing every member of their squad and staff to take Covid tests
- Brentford started the season with a fairytale victory over Arsenal on Friday
- It came close to being cancelled though, after a Covid scare in the visitors’ camp
- Every member of staff and the playing squad had to be tested due to the issue
- The game was thankfully allowed to go ahead but the virus still hangs over sport
The Premier League’s curtain-raiser at Brentford last Friday was hours from being postponed after Arsenal’s entire travelling party had to take Covid tests before kick-off.
Top flight clubs are testing twice a week, but there was enough concern over Arsenal’s visit to the Brentford Community Stadium that their players, coaching team and other associated staff were told to take additional tests on the day of the game, which Brentford won 2-0, to ensure it could go ahead safely.
It would have been a major blow to the Premier League had the opening game of the season been called off, but thankfully the match went ahead in front of a full stadium and was shown live on Sky Sports.
A Covid scare at Arsenal threatened to block what became a historic night for Brentford
All of the Gunners players and their staff had to be tested for coronavirus before kick-off
Nevertheless, the scare again highlights the impact Covid is having on domestic football, despite the relaxation of restrictions in recent weeks.
Premier League chiefs are remaining extra cautious over Covid risks, with Sportsmail revealing last month that clubs had been told to follow a set of new ‘emergency measures’ after cases rose during pre-season.
It was a miserable night for Mikel Arteta’s side whose miserable form goes into another season
Arsenal were without star forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for the game against Brentford, after both said they felt unwell. Reserve goalkeeper Alex Runarsson was also unavailable for the trip.
Aubameyang’s wife Alysha posted pictures of a family birthday party on social media last week, with such functions now permitted under Government rules.
It remains to be seen whether Aubameyang and Lacazette can recover for Arsenal’s clash at home to Chelsea on Sunday, with boss Mikel Arteta desperate for both to be available.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had to miss the clash with the captain saying he was unwell