Arsenal received a major blow in the run-up to their New Year’s Day clash against Manchester City after Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19.
Sidelined for at least a week in line with health protocols, Arsenal will be without their manager as reports suggest assistant coach Albert Stuivenberg will be filling in for the decisive fixture.
Stuivenberg, who can often be seen alongside the Spanish head coach, perhaps isn’t a household name in football just yet. In fact, Gooners endearingly refer to him as ‘AirPod Albert’, an alleged reference to his wearing of AirPods on most occasions.
Losing Arteta for Man City is unfortunate. Players will know their jobs but he's incredibly animated and vocal from the touchline; shame to miss that in such a big game. Hope he recovers quickly!— Phil Costa (@_PhilCosta) December 29, 2021
Airpod Albert – it's time.
Arsenal Amazon Documentary, Episode 8 synopsis: “With Mikel Arteta stricken by Covid, the club turn to a little known and rather mysterious figure on the sideline for one of the biggest games of the season… AirPod Albert”.— Mo (@MoArsenal86) December 29, 2021
However, with reports pointing to him taking over the charge at Arsenal, albeit for one game at most, curiosity about the relative unknown abounded.
Who is Albert Stuivenberg?
For the unversed, Stuivenberg is a former Dutch amateur footballer who has been involved in a coaching capacity since as far back as 1992 when he undertook the role of a youth coach at Feyenoord.
Besides that, the Dutchman has had a stint as coach of the Netherland’s under-17s national team, and also experiences in Belgium where he managed Genk for a brief period before getting the sack, despite showing promising results.
Most interestingly, however, Stuivenberg also worked as an assistant coach at Manchester United under manager Louis van Gaal back in 2014.
And his latest involvement at Arsenal as an assistant manager dates back to 2019, a position he has held to date, with a brief stint as Welsh’s assistant manager also somewhere in between.
Suffice to say, he has massive credentials to back his claim for taking charge of Arsenal against title contenders City, and if the experience is anything to go by, Gooners can rest assured that the team is in safe hands.