Mikel Arteta will miss Arsenal’s New Year’s Day clash with Manchester City after testing positive for Covid, nearly two years on from first contracting the virus.
The Spaniard previously tested positive in March 2020, shortly before English football was shutdown as the country tried to get a grip of the pandemic.
And Arsenal have confirmed that the manager will not be on the touchline for their game with the Premier League leaders at the Emirates Stadium having tested positive again.
The Gunners were due to play Wolves on Tuesday but the game was postponed after the Molineux outfit were unable to field a side owing to Covid cases and injuries to Bruno Lage’s squad.
Arteta’s positive test is a setback for the Arsenal boss with his side in a rich vein of form. The Gunners moved into the top four last week after beating West Ham and have won their last five games in all competitions.
Omicron, the ultra-infectious new Covid variant, has wreaked havoc across the football calendar in recent weeks, with infections rising at alarming rates. As a result, there are teams who find themselves with as many as three games in hand.
Boxing Day’s blockbuster line-up of matches was almost decimated by the virus, after three were called off – namely Liverpool’s clash with Leeds, Wolves’ showdown with Watford and Everton’s trip to Burnley.
This week’s round of midweek games have also been affected, with Arsenal v Wolves, Everton v Newcastle and Leeds v Aston Villa also postponed.
Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and Ralf Rangnick have called for measures to be introduced to allow Premier League clubs to navigate the busy winter schedule and the problems that the pandemic pose.
All three bosses believe that a return to five substitutes should be granted, with arguments surrounding players’ welfare posed.