Mikel Arteta has recovered from coronavirus after testing positive in March
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta believes the biggest obstacle facing a Premier League return is teaching players and staff the “very strict” safety rules.
Football in England remains frozen due to the coronavirus crisis, although Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday that ministers were looking at the possibility of sports being played behind closed doors as the government looks set to announce an update on its lockdown measures.
However, top-flight clubs appear divided on the use of neutral venues, while a number of players have expressed their concern over a premature return, including Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.
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Matteo Guendouzi pictured training with Arsenal before the shutdown
Premier League players will have to cover their faces as part of new rules to allow a safe return to full training, while clubs have begun a shopping spree of face masks.
Arsenal boss Arteta, who has recovered from coronavirus himself, believes one of the hardest parts of the Premier League’s potential return will be educating his players, matchday staff and training ground workers about the new safety measures.
“There is a lot of question marks,” Arteta said. “I think the hardest thing is educating the players and everybody involved at the training grounds and on match days, that this is different.
“We have to be very strict with the protocols. Common sense will dictate when we can go to the next step, and the next step, and so on.
Arsenal Women vice-captain Jordan Nobbs says the mental challenge of the UK lockdown is currently greater than the physical one for football players
“We cannot rush it. We are all aiming to play, we need to play, we are willing to play – it is important for society and the economy.
“We have that responsibility. We just have to be ready for whenever they say ‘Go ahead, open that door’ so we can hit the gas.”
Solo training ‘safer than going to the park’
Arsenal’s players have been allowed to return to their London Colney training ground, but continue to train individually in accordance with government health guidelines.
Arsenal’s players have been allowed to return to their London Colney training ground, but are training individually and maintaining social distancing
Arteta insists that it is currently the best environment for his players, who have been relying on an app to track their fitness during the lockdown, with Kieran Tierney registering some impressive numbers.
“The players have to arrive five minutes before the session in their own car, with their own clothes, with their own water, with their own protein bar,” Arteta added.
“There is one player per pitch. Nothing else. They don’t touch each other, they don’t even look at each other. No fitness coaches. They have their own programme.
“They finish after one hour. It is even safer than going to the park – they are more protected and if anything happens, we can call for an [emergency] response.
“It is our grass – no twisted ankles, no muscle injuries. It is a better environment.”
Mikel Arteta was speaking to Ian Wright as part of Adidas’ #hometeam series on YouTube.