Premier League clubs have insisted that their lower-league opponents in the Carabao Cup are tested for Covid-19 before this week’s second-round ties.
There are eight games over the next two days between top-flight clubs and those in the EFL, whose players have not been tested for the virus unless they developed symptoms since returning for pre-season training in the summer.
Premier League clubs are still testing their players twice a week, however, and have demanded that the same standards are applied to their opponents.
Under an agreement reached between the Premier League and EFL, all players, coaches and staff required to enter the so-called red zone at stadiums this week need to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test.
Aston Villa’s trip to League Two Barrow on Tuesday evening is one of the highlights of the round, and Leeds, Everton, Southampton, Norwich, Brentford, Wolves and Arsenal all face lower-league opposition.
The Premier League have agreed to pay for the tests on the condition that all clubs involved in the Carabao Cup adopt a uniform approach following the row over testing that marred the early stages of last season’s competition, as revealed by Sportsmail.
Championship clubs Brentford and Hull City both rejected offers from West Brom and West Ham respectively to pay for their players to be tested 12 months ago, and several top-flight clubs including Manchester City did not offer to cover lower league sides’ costs.’
Arsenal have already been badly hit by a Covid outbreak this season, with manager Mikel Arteta expressing unhappiness that their opening match of the campaign against Brentford went ahead despite four players being ruled out following positive tests, and the incidence of the virus appears to be on the increase.
There were 16 positive cases in the most recent testing round across the 20 clubs, but the figures for the EFL are not known due to the lack of testing.