So, we have ourselves an enforced two week hiatus from The Arsenal, as yesterday the Premier League confirmed that the league will shut down until 4th April. It’s an admission of just how serious the Coronavirus is from a contagious point of view and I don’t think there are many people out there who would disagree with what the governing bodies in football have done.
Collectively we need to minimise the potential spread of this and if that means cancelling mass gatherings of people then so be it.
It’s not just football though, but sport in general seems to be shutting down. Motor racing, rugby, tennis, golf – all major professional sports seem to be adopting the same approach and this will mean something unprecedented in my lifetime. We’ve always had periods in which football isn’t on; the summer when there are no international tournaments, mid season international breaks, etc, but there’s always been other sport with which to get engaged with. The next two week’s it’ll essentially be all stopped and that will leave a void in many peoples’ lives I suspect.
The optimist in me hopes it allows people to think about the other good things in life; football can be escapism for some but let’s hope it gives people cause to take stock and realise there’s a big wide world out there.
Quite what it’ll mean for the season now I have no idea. Some teams are suggesting that the season is cancelled and we start again in August. I know there’s plenty of us laughing about the possibility of Liverpool not winning the league, but I just can’t see how teams will agree to that. There will be so many who would argue against it and the sheer volume of cash that is involved in the Premier League is such that it feels almost impossible to execute. Imagine if you’re Leeds and you’re potentially on the verge of a big payday, but you have to start all over again? Incredibly harsh.
I suspect it’ll mean the league finishes at the end of May and the Euros and other international competitions are pushed back until next summer. That seems like the most sensible option to me.
The quality of the football will also be questioned I think. Two weeks of footballers not training? It’ll be like the first few games of the Premier League season and they’re always a little bit crap in terms of quality. Players are a little more off pace, they pick up the odd injury, etc.
There will be one or two players with which this could be good though. If we’re looking at a ‘glass half full’ situation then this two week stoppage from football means we might see Lucas Torreira before the season finishes. He was given eight weeks out but Arteta seemed willing to take a view in a few weeks depending on how quickly the Uruguayan heals. By the time we play our next match it will have already have been just over four weeks since he picked up the injury. So if he can get back in six or seven, for example, then he might still have half a dozen games in which he could be available to play.
It’s the same with our full backs. Hector has supposedly been nursing a problem with his groin I believe, which has caused him to take painkillers. There’s a few of us that have questioned him since he returned from injury but if he’s carrying a knock then perhaps it explains his form. So two weeks with no game gives him an opportunity to properly rest himself and hopefully when we regain the season we’ll have a better Hector Bellerin.
We’ll also have Soares and Tierney to call upon, whilst Kolasinac might be close to fitness too, which will be a massive boost if we’ve got lots of games concertina’d together in April and May. Rotation may be vital and to have a fully fit squad to choose from could be absolutely massive.
But for now we just have to accept that life is going to be a little weird and just get on with it.
Catch you tomorrow with whatever Arsenal-related thoughts pop into my head.