Arsenal had the first confirmed case of COVID-19 among Premier League teams, and now, six weeks later, they are the first team to return to some form of training at the club’s official training ground.
On Monday, the majority of the Gunners’ first-team squad conducted an isolated session at Colney, training basically alone without even coaching supervision (who all remained at home). The players arrived at staggered intervals, with no more than five sharing a pitch at any given time. Most of the indoor facilities remained closed, including the gym and the canteen. Sky Sports’ helicopter footage shows that the social distancing measures were followed impeccably.
Arsenal very happy with how things went at Colney after players returned for the first time in seven weeks. Everything ran smoothly and the majority of players took advantage of the offer to use the training pitches. Things will now continue to operate like this on a daily basis. pic.twitter.com/VFEAmuEsyR— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 27, 2020
Spurs have confirmed that are following in Arsenal’s model today (Tuesday), while reports add that Chelsea are among several team considering similar steps in the near future, alongside Liverpool and West Ham. Chelsea already had made Stamford Bridge available for workouts for those players living nearby, but Cobham has remained closed since mid-March.
Tottenham confirm they will be making a limited number of pitches available at their Training Centre to enable first team squad members to undertake individual running sessions on a "strict rotational basis." https://t.co/5WV593ig9l#COYS— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) April 28, 2020
It’s of course tough to call this proper training, but it’s a small first step towards normalcy, with the league increasingly targeting a June return. While talk this weekend of that actually happening is probably still a bit too hopeful, if the fight against the coronavirus goes as well as hoped, we might be looking at football again in a little over a month. Plenty of things left to figure out between now and then, logistically, financially, legally, and most importantly, with regards to the safety of all involved.