• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Premier League fixtures in doubt as Arteta, Hudson-Odoi test positive for coronavirus

Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi

The English Premier League has been thrown into pandemonium as Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus, leaving at least one game postponed and other fixtures in doubt.

Arsenal’s match at Brighton was put on hold after Arteta’s diagnosis sent the London club into lockdown, while Chelsea’s players and coaching staff were also ordered into isolation.

Chelsea said they would discuss their upcoming games, starting with Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa, with Premier League officials.

The Premier League will hold emergency meeting on Friday morning with top-flight clubs “regarding future fixtures” in light of the pandemic, which has shut down football and other sports around the world.

Arsenal’s London Colney training centre is now shut and Saturday’s game at Brighton has been postponed. Both Arsenal and Chelsea’s full first-team squads will now self-isolate, meaning the Blues’ game against Aston Villa will also be postponed.

Hudson-Odoi, 19, is the first Premier League player confirmed to have the virus. He displayed cold symptoms on Monday morning and has stayed away from the club since then.

“Chelsea personnel who had recent close contact with the player in the men’s team building will now self-isolate in line with government health guidelines,” a club statement said.

“These will include initially the full men’s team squad, coaching staff and a number of backroom staff.”

Arsenal’s training ground has been closed and their players and staff have gone into self-isolation following Arteta’s positive test.

“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed,” Arteta said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said the government was “considering the question of banning major public events such as sporting fixtures”, but was not ready to do so yet.

But Arteta and Hudson-Odoi’s illnesses could force the Premier League’s hand and lead to the cancellation of matches this weekend and possibly into the future.

Arsenal and Chelsea are not the only top-flight clubs affected by the virus. Leicester, scheduled to play at Watford on Saturday, said on Thursday that three of their players have shown symptoms and are self-isolating as a precaution.

The Foxes said the unnamed trio had “presented with extremely mild illness” in recent days.

“We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.

“We’ve followed procedure and they have been kept away at this moment from the rest of the squad and then we’ll see how that develops.”

Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy is in self-isolation after a family member was taken to hospital after suffering respiratory problems, while three Leicester City players are also in self-isolation.

The relative is being treated in hospital and has undergone tests for the coronavirus, which can cause shortness of breath.

City’s Champions League last 16 second leg meeting with Real Madrid, set for Tuesday, has been postponed after one of the Spanish club’s basketball players tested positive for the virus.

Marinakis, 52, met Arsenal players and staff when the Gunners faced Olympiakos in a Europa League tie in February.