Published On: Mon, Apr 27th, 2020

Arsenal players arrive at training ground as first club return from coronavirus lockdown | Football | Sport


Arsenal’s PFA representative Hector Bellerin led the first cluster of players back to London Colney on Monday morning. The Gunners are the first top-flight club to reopen their training ground. Premier League action could resume behind closed doors in mid-June so players will need plenty of time to improve their fitness levels after weeks of training alone at home.

Premier League action was suspended in early March after Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta contracted coronavirus. The Gunners have not played since the March 2 victory at Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round.

The partial reopening of London Colney represents a tentative step towards resuming the 2019/20 campaign.

The players are arriving at the training ground on a strict rota basis. The 10 pitches on site will all be used to ensure strict social distancing measures are properly implemented. Car parking places will be clearly marked for each player and there will be no meetings.

Attending the HQ is voluntary but the majority of Arteta’s squad are expected to take advantage of the option. 

Hector Bellerin, David Luiz and Emiliano Martinez were among the first to arrive although no group activities will be taking place.

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Concerns over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being stopped for selfies while out jogging is one of the motivating factors behind the club’s decision to allow players access to the training ground.

The club also had to remind Luiz, Granit Xhaka, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette social distancing guidelines in the last week.

An Arsenal spokesperson said: “Players will be permitted access to our London Colney training grounds next week. Access will be limited, carefully managed and social distancing will be maintained at all times. All Colney buildings remain closed. Players will travel alone, do their individual workout and return home.”

The decision to partially lift the training ground closure has attracted some criticism, however.

Georgie Bingham said on talkSPORT: “It made me really upset, Arsenal going back to training next week.

“That breaks social distancing rules. Social distancing rules say you can go out for food, health reasons or work but only if you cannot work from home.

“Well, even if training doesn’t resume until June 1, because that’s the kind of deadline isn’t it that they’re setting on finishing the season, you can work from home if you’re a footballer because you have no reason to be in work because there are no games.

“So you’re working from home on your fitness.

“You can have four weeks of training when they say that the game can return, but what kind of example is football setting except that it’s greedy and it needs to go back to work?

“I don’t get it, I just think it looks bad.”



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