Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said it was morally odd that elite football in England went ahead in the context of the COWID-19 pandemic, but added that the sport helped boost the nation’s morale.

Scenes of celebrations in the dressing rooms during the FA Cup third round and recent breaches of government guidelines by top players, including Tottenham Hotspur trio Sergio Reguilon, Giovani Lo Celso and Eric Lamela, who took part in the Christmas party together, have raised concerns about whether football is still setting a good example.

The United Kingdom is currently under quarantine. Over the weekend 80 000 people were infected with the coronavirus and on Sunday 54 940 new cases were reported.

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Last week, the Premier League tightened its protocols on coronaviruses to ensure that those in charge of the sport take their responsibilities seriously.

First of all, it’s very difficult to control your emotions when you’re going 320 mph in a game, Arteta said at a press conference on Monday.

For example, we ask our players in the corners to be the bodyguards and push people, and then we can’t greet anyone. This is getting a little controversial and hard to understand.

Morally, with the situation that we have in this country, with the situation that we have in the world, it’s a little strange to continue like this. We also know what we can bring to the community, if we can do it safely, we will have many good things. It’s just a balance. When it starts to hurt, to create fear and exploit people, and if we can do that and it’s still safe and we can add something positive to it. It’s a difficult context.

All the protocols and policies and all the things we have to do to keep the industry going are very helpful. I think we did a good job up until about last week, and got it under control. If that’s the case and the government and people are happy to do it again because they think it’s something positive and something to look at and entertain people, then it’s great that we can help in that regard.

Otherwise, they are the ones who decide there is no point in pursuing this matter.

While Thomas Partey is expected to be in form for Arsenal’s Premier League match against Crystal Palace on Thursday, Arteta is hoping Gabriel Martinelli will not be absent for Saturday’s FA Cup third round match due to an ankle injury sustained in the warm-up.

The 19-year-old is said to have sprained his ankle during a training session and was removed from the team with 20 minutes remaining before Arteta admitted he was saddened by the situation. But on Monday, he was more optimistic about the outlook.

We don’t know how bad it is, he has a CT scan this morning, Artema said.

Error! The file name is not specified. Mikel Arteta said great football can make people happy during the lockout. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

He didn’t look good after the game because he was in a lot of pain, but yesterday he did a little better.

So let’s hope he gets a CT scan today, it’s not that bad and we find Gabby soon. But we’ll know more tomorrow.

Arteta also revealed that Arsenal tried to reorganise the club’s goalkeeping department in the summer and will try to rectify the situation in January.

The Gunners sold Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa for £20m, but after failing to sign Brentford’s David Rye, they have now signed Icelandic goalkeeper Alex Runarsson on a four-year contract with French club Dijon.

Runarsson has made a good showing in his five appearances so far and although Arteta said there were no plans to loan the 25-year-old, he added that the situation needed to be resolved after third-choice goalkeeper Matt Macey was allowed to join Hibernian.

We are in the process of evaluating what will happen to these three positions. The conversations we had over the summer with Edu and the club were a little different than what actually happened through the transfer window and the situation that developed at the end of the day with Amy, he added.

We didn’t have a lot of time to do what we really wanted to do, and we decided to assess the situation now in this time frame, which is what we’re trying to do, and we’re going to make a decision on how to move forward with those three positions.

We are currently evaluating the situation of the three goalie positions and may find another solution during the winter break.

 

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