Mikel Arteta has urged his unvaccinated contingent of Arsenal players to go get their Coronavirus vaccine, saying the club will ultimately be the ones to ‘pay the price’.
It’s safe to say that it hasn’t been a great start to the season for Arsenal, losing all three of their opening Premier League games without registering a single goal to leave them bottom of the division.
The club’s preparations have been severely hindered so far with a number of key first-team players having been forced to isolate having tested positive for Covid-19.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were among four players forced to miss the season-opening defeat to Brentford, before £50m summer signing then tested positive to miss the games against Chelsea and Man City, while Granit Xhaka then tested positive during international duty with Switzerland.
There is believed to be widespread scepticism of the vaccine among footballers, with around a third believed to have declined the jab, and speaking ahead of this weekend’s clash against Norwich, Mikel Arteta has said his unvaccinated players are seriously hampering his side’s chances of success.
“Obviously, it will limit certain aspects if they don’t (get vaccinated), because we don’t want to expose ourselves in certain things,” said Arteta at his pre-match press conference.
“For example, travelling. If they are not vaccinated and they travel or socialise in certain situations, obviously the risk increases a lot. We don’t want that exposure with any of our players. Because, at the end, the team and the club will pay the price.”
Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam is believed to have tried to persuade players of the benefits of receiving the vaccine last week, and Arteta said the club are also trying to convince players that it is ‘the right thing to do’ for both personal and professional reasons.
“We are trying to explain all of the reasons why we believe this is the right thing to do,” he said.
“First of all how it will protect the club, and secondly the team-mates, the environment they are around and the exposure they will have if they don’t do it.
“We have to be on the same page and understand all the facts. The personal facts that someone can have are for many different reasons. Maybe it’s health reasons, a contradiction that he has, the way he’s been educated or something he believes.
“The other thing is – what is best for the club and the team to try minimise any risk of the player contracting the virus or passing it to anyone else?
“But it’s a personal matter, not an obligation, and we have to respect that.”