Arsenal’s first-leg tie with Benfica could be played at a neutral venue after a ban was placed on travelling to Portugal due to the ongoing pandemic.
The coastal country have a new variant of the illness which means the UK government have banned travel to Portugal. There’s a difference of opinion on the matter with Benfica insistent on playing the game at home, meanwhile, the Gunners are prepared to play at a different stadium.
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With such a packed fixture schedule, Arsenal can’t afford to pick up any fitness issues which may well threaten the potential occurrence of any fixture. We have already seen what happens when an entire Premier League club pick up the virus in the case of Aston Villa, who were forced to close their training ground and miss two league games, whilst having to field youngster in their FA Cup tie with Liverpool.
Well, the north London outfit have the added bonus of competing in the Europa League, making the potential replaying of any postponed fixture all the more difficult.
Then there’s the long-lasting impact on the health of players with Gabriel Magalhaes having shown the ill-effects with a poor performance in his first game back after contracting the issue. The Brazilian was far from his reliable self during last weekend’s FA Cup tie as he put in a shocking display.
Overall, the current pandemic poses many issues for Mikel Arteta’s men. Picking it up could well cause many postponements, which would bring more harm than good in the chase for Champions League football.