Mikel Arteta 'surprised' Brentford game was not postponed due to Covid-19 cases

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Arteta was missing four players for the game
Arteta was missing four players for the game / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has said he is delighted Arsenal have signed Martin Odegaard, but expressed his surprise that his side’s Premier League opener against Brentford was not postponed after a recent coronavirus outbreak within the club.

Odegaard spent the second half of last season on loan in north London, making 20 appearances and registering two goals and two assists. 

Arteta has long been on the lookout for a creative midfielder and after considering moves for James Maddison and Philippe Coutinho, Arsenal instead opted to sign the Norwegian on a permanent basis. 

Speaking before his side’s game against Chelsea on Sunday, Arteta said (via James Benge): "He made us better. We needed more options, alternatives, creativity and players that can be models in this football club. He has a unique talent for the way we want to play. I'm delighted the club has made an effort and we have him here."

Odegaard will be joined by another new arrival, Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, in the near future with Arteta confirming that paperwork is being finalised on a £30m deal. 

Asked whether Ramsdale would be the club’s number-one stopper this season, Arteta said: "Aaron is a really talented young goalkeeper with huge experience. He’s going to bring competition which is what we want. Healthy competition, quality competition. We wanted a goalkeeper there and we ended with Aaron."

He added: "Give him some time. He’s a young goalkeeper with great potential."

Arteta also addressed the club’s coronavirus situation. Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian - as well as Alex Runar Runarsson - all missed their side’s Premier League curtain raiser against Brentford. It later emerged that this was due to the foursome testing positive for Covid-19. 

Arteta admitted he did not have much of an update of their fitness and also expressed surprise that the Premier League did not postpone the fixture.

"I don't know if they are going to train in a few hours, I don't know if they are going to be able to play at the weekend."

He added: “Yes. I was surprised [the game went ahead] but the regulators decided that the best thing to do was not to postpone the game."