Arsenal got their first new Covid-19 case in the playing camp for a while this weekend, as fixtures are called off all around the Premier League.
Ahead of Arsenal’s game against Leeds United on Saturday, there was bad news in the Gunners camp as Albert Sambi Lokonga tested positive for Covid.
After the game, Mikel Arteta confirmed Pablo Mari had also contracted the virus.
In the short term, the absences didn’t have a huge impact. Arsenal were still able to name the same team for the fourth game in a row, and they won comfortably against Leeds.
But there will be longer-term implications of the positive test.
So far, Arsenal have managed to avoid a Covid outbreak, whilst other teams are dropping like flies.
The Arsenal match against Leeds was the only one of six that could even be played on Saturday, due to all the cases around at the moment.
On Friday, Mikel Arteta confirmed that Arsenal didn’t have any positive cases in the playing squad, but Lokonga and Mari’s positive tests could easily kick things off.
More than that, it’s not great timing to be losing Lokonga. With the League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday, you would have expected the summer signing to start.
In a week, Thomas Partey will be heading off to AFCON, along with Mohamed Elneny, thinning out the midfield.
We’re arguably days away from hitting the period where Arsenal have most needed Lokonga to be healthy and available.
We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for asymptomatic infections that quickly disappear.
Arsenal are set to play Sunderland in Tuesday’s League Cup clash. The good news is that Sunderland’s match on Saturday was not one of the many postponed, so there’s at least a decent chance the game can go ahead.
Arsenal have also been proactive with their implementation of anti-Covid measures, bringing back testing in cars before it became a Premier League policy, for example.
There’s a shadow looming over Arsenal matches now though.