Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants ‘fairness’ after Premier League’s Covid meeting

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants ‘fairness’ after Premier League’s Covid meeting

by Emily Smith
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Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal: Mikel Arteta ‘delighted’ with ArsenalArsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he wants everyone to “play under the same rules” after Monday’s Premier League meeting to discuss the Covid pandemic.

Six of this weekend’s 10 Premier League games have been postponed, with Arsenal’s 4-1 win at Leeds the only game to take place on Saturday.

The 20 top-flight clubs will meet on Monday to discuss options.

“They have to come forward and explain what we are to expect from them,” said Arteta.

“If everyone is healthy and authorities think we have to carry on, we will.

“We follow the guidance. If they say play as you can, we will play as we can. We want to all play under same rules and all under the same way.

“Whatever they decide is better for the fairness of the competition.”

Meanwhile, Premier League chief Richard Masters has written to clubs urging players to get the vaccine and stressed the importance of the league completing the season.

And EFL chairman Rick Parry has said there are no plans to pause the English Football League because of Covid-19, despite 19 games being postponed across the EFL this weekend.

Weekend sport hit by rapid rise in Covid casesNo plan for EFL circuit breakerPremier League and government urge players to get vaccineThe decision to cancel five Premier League games was made on Friday but the announcement that Aston Villa v Burnley was called off was only made two and a half hours before the 15:00 GMT kick-off.

Fans turned up at Villa Park on Saturday to discover the game had been called offFormer Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s a disastrous situation for some of the supporters. I feel for them.

“There has got to be some logic around the Premier League in trusting the clubs to make the phone call early and say ‘this game’s got no chance’.

“There has to be some clarity from the Premier League. It just sounds ridiculous for a billion-pound organisation such as the Premier League to not be giving transparent messages on what the criteria is. What are the rules?”

As well as the official Premier League clubs’ meeting, managers and captains are also due to hold their own meetings.

More than half of this weekend’s English Football League games were called off too (19 out of 36), but all four Scottish Premiership matches went ahead.

BBC senior football reporter Ian Dennis said: “There are greater concerns for the paying, travelling supporter.

“The Villa v Burnley postponement came after new information was provided by Villa, but it begs the question whether that information could have been provided any sooner. Does there need to be an earlier cut-off point?”

Other Premier League managers have differing thoughts on the issue of whether to suspend football, as happened in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank thinks this weekend’s Premier League games and the EFL Cup ties next week should have been postponed so teams could “break the chain” of infection by Boxing Day.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he does not see the “100% benefit” of stopping the league because they would have to find space to play several games at a later date.

There are only two completely free midweeks in the rest of the season, and they were both set aside for potential cup matches causing league games to be postponed.

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has said he does not think games should go ahead while so many are getting called off.

Dennis added: “They [clubs with different opinions] need to try and find a solution and they need to try and find some common ground going forward.

“There isn’t a great deal of wriggle room regarding trying to fit in all of these games into the schedule.

“There’s a lot to try and get through from a logistical point of view, a welfare point of view regarding players and staff who work at various clubs, and consideration for the supporters.”

The meeting on Monday will not purely be about a potential break and matches being called off. Re-arranging the games that have already been postponed is also on the agenda.

Delaying the end of the season would cause huge logistical problems.

The Nations League is due to start on 4 June – with four games for each European nation that month – and next season is meant to start a week earlier (6 August) to fit in the winter World Cup in Qatar.

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