Arsenal have had to cancel their tour of the United States following a series of positive COVID-19 cases within their 80-strong travelling party, causing disruption to Mikel Arteta’s plans and heartbreak for a large contingent of supporters.
After completing a two-game spell in Scotland with fixtures against Hibernian and Rangers, the Florida Cup was scheduled next with an exciting tie against Inter to be followed by one of Everton or Millonarios.
It’s a devastating blow to the fans across America who had taken time off work, booked flights and hotels and got their tickets sorted to receive the news just one day prior to Arsenal flying out. Safety is paramount, however, and the decision was a simple one.
Amid Arsenal looking to bolster their squad with the latest rumours on James Maddison grabbing everyone’s attention, there is the small matter of preparations to deal with for Arteta ahead of a huge Premier League season.
Arsenal new plans for pre-season fixtures revealed after Florida Cup and USA tour is cancelled following positive COVID-19 cases
Depsite finishing the last campaign strongly, the pressure is on the Spaniard to get results quickly following the side missing out on European football for the first time in two and a half decades. Every single training session and warm-up match is valuable to ensuring the manager can get his team up to speed for the opening day clash with Brentford.
Fortunately, as revealed by Simon Collings, London Colney is open for training as usual and those who tested positive are currently self-isolating as per government guidelines.
Training will be undertaken with strict social-distancing measures with as minimal close contact as possible off the pitches.
This massive disruption means Arsenal are now scrambling to find two fixtures to fill up their schedule. With clubs having their own pre-season plans in place, this is an increasingly tough ask. If found, any fixture will surely be behind-closed-doors.
What is also problematic is the calibre of opposition. Arsenal are unlikely to convince top-flight clubs to play, and even if they do those sides could field a series of youth players instead.
Sadly, given restrictions have been lifted in England with fans, unlike the players, allowed to move around freely, this kind of incident could become more frequent. There is no word on who has tested positive for COVID-19.