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Arteta voices fears over virus threat from international window

London (AFP) – Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he is keeping his “fingers crossed” that next month’s international break will not result in a spike in positive coronavirus tests in the Premier League.

So far a strict system of testing has kept the number of cases in the English top-flight low even as Britain faces a second wave of Covid-19.

West Ham boss David Moyes and players Issa Diop and Josh Cullen tested positive this week, while Ilkay Gundogan became the third Manchester City player to return a positive test this month.

But no Premier League game, all taking place behind closed doors, has so far been postponed since last season resumed in June.

Clubs are set to lose their players during next month’s international window, which includes European Championship and South American World Cup qualifiers.

Top clubs reportedly held talks with world governing body FIFA this week over the next two international windows, in October and November.

Concerns are growing that players will be at greater risk of contracting the virus as they criss-cross the globe to represent their countries or being forced into periods of quarantine when they return to their clubs. 

Arteta, who tested positive for Covid-19 days before the 2019/20 season was put on hold in March, said he had his “fingers crossed”.

“We have a system that works, that has created a positive, really, really low across the league,” said the Arsenal boss.

“Obviously when everybody starts to fly away to very different countries I think at the moment is a little bit of an experience and we don’t know what the outcome is. 

“We want to believe that they want to follow a lot of things that are implemented and are working well so fingers crossed that we don’t get any bad news.”

– Anfield clash –

Arteta, who was speaking at his pre-match press conference, takes his team to Liverpool on Monday for a showdown between two sides with a 100 percent record in the new campaign.

Arsenal finished 43 points behind the champions last season but can take confidence from two triumphs against them in recent months.

Arteta said Jurgen Klopp’s side, along with Manchester City, had set the bar high in the past few seasons and showed commitment to back up their quality.

“I don’t see any complacency,” said the Spaniard, whose side beat Liverpool in the league in July and triumphed on penalties in last month’s Community Shield.

“They go to any ground and even when they are 2-0 up, 3-0 up, 4-0 up, they are still going the same way and this is an incredible credit to the coaching team, the culture they have created and the spirit of that team.”

He added: “They just go for it every single minute of every game and throughout the season to do that for 10 months, that’s a massive compliment to them.”

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