Arteta calls for fairness as Covid wreaks havoc in Premier League

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Only five games of the previously scheduled 10 are due to take place on Saturday and Sunday, taking the total number of postponed top-flight fixtures over the past week to nine. The English Football League — which oversees the second, third and fourth tiers of the game — has also been badly hit as numbers of coronavirus cases rocket in Britain.

The BBC reported that Premier League clubs were due to meet on Monday to discuss the spiralling crisis, with the busy festive season approaching. Even the matches that went ahead on Thursday were disrupted. Liverpool were without Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Curtis Jones for their 3-1 win over Newcastle following suspected positive tests for Covid.

Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi missed their 1-1 draw with Everton after testing positive. Brentford manager Thomas Frank, whose side have had matches with Manchester United and Southampton postponed, on Thursday led calls for the top flight to be suspended.

Arteta, whose Arsenal side are due to be in action at Leeds on Saturday, said Friday that decisions had to be based on what was best for the competition and the health of everybody involved. Arsenal’s opening game of the season went ahead at Brentford even though they had a number of positive cases in the squad.

“We need more clarity on why those games are not being played and what you need to not have a game played, so you can maintain the fairness of the competition,” said Arteta. “We have been here on the other side of the table (at the start of the season) where we had all the arguments in the world to not play a football match and we ended up playing it.”

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