Manchester City vs. Arsenal PL Match Postponed over Coronavirus Concerns

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2020

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, March 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Wednesday's Premier League matchup between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed due to concerns regarding the coronavirus.

According to a press release from Man City, the decision to postpone the game "has been taken as a precautionary measure on medical advice, after it emerged that personnel from Arsenal FC have come into contact with the Olympiacos owner, Evangelos Marinakis, who has been named as a positive case of COVID-19."

Arsenal added in a statement

"The medical advice we have received puts the risk of [the players who came in contact with Marinakis] developing Covid-19 at extremely low. However, we are strictly following the Government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact."

It's the first Premier League match that has been postponed due to the coronavirus, though other competitions have been directly impacted. Italy has suspended all sporting events until at least April 3, including Serie A games, while Spain's La Liga matches will take place in front of empty stadiums, devoid of spectators.

Several Bundesliga and Champions League contests have also been played without fans in attendance. That measure is one that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is not keen on, per Rob Dawson of ESPN:

"The other issue you have to ask is it worse to play football without the spectators. We do our job for the people and if the people cannot come to watch us, there is no sense.

"I would not love to play matches in the Premier League or Champions League or the cups without the people. But we are going to follow the instructions of the governments. Everybody around the world is involved in that and we just follow what we have to do and follow the instructions."

Wednesday's postponement pushes back the return of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who took over the post midseason after serving as an assistant under Guardiola. 

"I said four years ago, after half a season I was convinced he'd be a manager and the right opportunity came up," Guardiola said, per Dawson. "I would say he's done incredibly well—his ideas, his positional play. In a short term, they'll have success with him on the bench."

The match, whenever it is played, will have far more importance for an Arsenal side desperately trying to qualify for European competitions next season. The Gunners currently sit in ninth on the Premier League table with 40 points, though they are just five points behind fifth-place Manchester United with a game in hand. 

Assuming City finish in the top four, finishing fifth could be good enough to get Arsenal back into the Champions League, with City facing a two-year ban from Champions League football due to breaking financial fair play rules.