Mikel Arteta opens up on self-isolation after coronavirus battle and his 'homework' plan for Arsenal squad

james olley
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has revealed the extent of the “homework” his Arsenal players are undertaking and believes Covid-19 could have a lasting impact on the way clubs communicate.

The 38-year-old was the first high-profile figure in English football to contract the coronavirus earlier this month, leading to a suspension in Premier League matches.

Around 100 people working at the club – including the first-team squad and coaches – went into self-isolation and were due to return to their London Colney training base on Tuesday before the government ramped up measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Instead, players are following individual training programmes at home and Arteta, who also celebrated his birthday today, discussed the details of what was being worked on in an interview with the club’s official website.

“There are different aspects that we have to try to maintain,” he said. “One is health and that's the most important one for sure. We're just trying to cover all the necessities that players, staff and employees need to try to sustain the club with healthy people. That's the first one and that's our responsibility.

(Action Images via Reuters)

“The second one is the physical aspect. They all have programmes and they all have individual work to do that they are really doing and really trying to maintain themselves so they can prepare themselves for when we have to get back playing.

“The third one is the mind. There is the psychological support that they need, which we are giving them, and as well I'm giving them a lot of homework to do because I've been reviewing everything that we've been doing since I joined.

“There are things we have to maintain doing, improve and develop, and individually they are really enjoying the challenge. We might get a few coaches after this virus, or at least a few players that are willing to go down that path because I think they are really enjoying the process.

“It's a great opportunity for me to get to know the people there and I was talking before about the senior people at the club, but as well my own coaching staff, the people that are related on a daily basis. And then the communication with the players.

Arteta: We are all realising how much we need each other. (Getty Images)

“Now I'm at home, they are not sitting next to me. We can open conversations in a different way and I think that over a worldwide situation it's affecting them and it's making them feel more human and vulnerable as well. They can feel relaxed talking about anything that we have to do. So, I'm taking that opportunity as well to share different conversations with them that in my opinion have been really useful.”

Asked whether the enforced period at home was at least beneficial in giving players used to travelling so regularly a chance to spend time with their families, Arteta replied: “Absolutely and I think we are all realising how much we need each other. We are in a world here where everything is social media, everything is a WhatsApp text.

“But how important is touching each other, feeling each other and hugging each other? I miss that a lot with a lot of people that I love. I cannot do it now and I am sure that will transform a little bit of how people behave with their close ones, with the people that they love and that they care about.

“We have to be emotionally more open. We have to tell each other what we are feeling, because straightaway, you know. It's one virus that is putting the world aside and it's transforming everything that we prioritise in life. So we have to take that lesson. We cannot just in two or three months' time - if we are able to get over this quickly - forget about this, because it's so important.”

Arteta revealed to Spanish television earlier this week that he has now fully recovered but elaborated on the measures he took in self-isolation.

“I set up a room and a bathroom, and I was there by myself for two or three days but after the second day, my missus started to feel some symptoms as well,” said the Spaniard. “It was probably too late because by the time that the symptoms arose, the virus was already contagious to other people.

“So we could not prevent it in our home, I think it was too late by the time we had the positive test as well. We were reacting and now that's why I insist that instead of reacting, you have the chance now to stay at home and prevent a lot of situations. We have to do it."

Arteta also stressed the importance of following government advice, citing the alarming spread of Covid-19 in his homeland, Spain, where almost 4,100 people have died.

“Please to everybody, we are a little bit behind other countries, for example Spain, where I know the situation they are living at the moment, and while we are having the opportunity a little bit to minimise the risk, I encourage everybody please to be responsible and stay at home as much as possible,” he added.

“That is all we can do from our position, we don’t have the ability to help others in other circumstances, so please at least stay at home and do what is required. We have to try to help the NHS as much as possible and we have to give the opportunity to the elderly people who needs this more than anybody else to get the treatment they require. We have to slow the process down and the virus down, so please stay at home.”

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