MIKEL ARTETA fears “bad news” when players leave the Premier League's Covid-19 bubble to go on international duty next month.
It was Arteta’s positive test back in March that led to English football shutting down completely, until strict protocols were put in place to allow some games to resume behind closed doors.
But the Prem was dealt another major warning when West Ham boss David Moyes and his players Josh Cullen and Issa Diop discovered they were positive before the Hammers’ Carabao Cup win over Hull on Tuesday.
The Gunners head coach Arteta said: “We have much more information right now than we had many months ago when that happened.
“The bubbles that the Premier League, the clubs and the Government have been able to create to try to keep everybody as safe as possible are working really, really well.
“But we all know that the issue is still there.
"It is not going away and we have to keep the same approach and be always very careful, very conservative and try to maintain this business because it is really important in many, many aspects.
“We are lucky in our profession that we have found a way. Not many professions can say that.
“Let’s respect that and try to keep going in the best possible way.
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“Obviously when everyone has to fly away to very different countries, I think at the moment it’s a little bit of an experience.
“We don’t know what the outcome is. We want to believe that they are going to follow a lot of things that are implemented and working well so fingers crossed we don’t get any bad news.”
The good news for Arteta on the pitch is that he goes into tomorrow’s clash against Jurgen Klopp’s champions Liverpool with a 100 per cent record.
Arsenal beat the Reds at the Emirates in July and in the Community Shield in the penalty shootout victory at Wembley last month.
But Arteta knows his side face a huge challenge to close the 43-point gap between the two clubs at the end of last season.
The Gunners boss said: “I don’t know if in football history someone has closed a gap of 43 points, if they maintain the same level, in just a few months.
“What you are expecting to do is be much better and more consistent and then they can drop the level a little bit, and then the gap is not that big.
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“But I don’t see any complacency [in Liverpool].
“They go to any ground, even when they are 2-0 up, 3-0 up, 4-0 up, and they still go in the same way.
“This is an incredible credit to the coaching team, the culture they have created and the spirit of that team.
“There is not one player that plays half-half on the day, that is not very interested or just plays for moments in the game.
“They just go for it, every single minute of every game.
“Throughout the season to do that for ten months, that’s a massive compliment I think.”
Former Manchester City No 2 Arteta has received plenty of praise for his work to date at Arsenal but there is much more to do to compete with Liverpool at the top of the table.
He said: “That is a different level. They have done that in the Premier League and in the Champions League as well.
“And that is why they raised the bar so high.
“Not only them, Manchester City as well in recent years.
“That is the level and you have to be able to compete at that level because this is our context and this is our reality.”
ARSENAL (likely): Leno, Bellerin, Gabriel, Holding, Tierney, Xhaka, Ceballos, Maitland-Niles, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
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