At the end of the preceding week, the player in question returned a positive sample in the Premier League’s centralised testing programme and went into self-isolation, along with two of his team-mates who were deemed to have been in “close contact” with him. Suspecting a false positive, Arsenal took samples from the player on the Saturday and Sunday and found both the antigen test for the virus and the antibody test, which shows whether a person has had the virus in the past, came back negative.
With players needing to test negative in the Premier League’s programme to return to training and feature in matches, Arsenal had to wait for the players to return a negative test in the following round of centralised testing last Monday before the trio could return to training. The trio all missed three days’ training but featured in the 3-0 defeat to City.
Norwich faced a similar scenario when midfielder Marco Stiepermann registered a positive result in the same round of testing as the Arsenal player but was permitted by the Premier League to return to training after posting two negative samples while in self-isolation.
Meanwhile, Arsenal face an anxious wait to discover if Matteo Guendouzi will be handed a three-match ban for appearing to grab Neal Maupay by the throat after Saturday’s acrimonious defeat at Brighton.
The FA are expecting to receive referee Martin Atkinson’s report on Monday, which will hold the key to whether a ban for Guendouzi will add to the Gunners’ nightmare restart, which has already seen defeats to City and Brighton and injuries to Pablo Mari, Granit Xhaka and Bernd Leno.
Players from both sides came together after the final whistle at the Amex Stadium, where Maupay’s 95th-minute winner capped a dismal afternoon for the visitors, who lost Leno to a knee injury following a challenge by the Albion forward.
An incensed Guenzouzi appeared to grab Maupay and, although Atkinson was close by, no action was taken. If the referee reports that he did not have a clear view of the incident, the FA could take retrospective action.
Leno left the Amex Stadium on crutches and Arsenal are waiting for the swelling to go down before they can learn the extent of the damage.