Liverpool only have three named players out with Covid, even though they have managed to convince the EFL to postpone their Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Thursday evening, so how many are infected?
On Wednesday, Liverpool were pleading with the EFL to postpone their game with Arsenal due to Covid infections in the squad.
The EFL ‘reluctantly’ agreed and the game has now been rescheduled, much to Arsenal’s detriment as they now have to play the semi-final either side of the north London derby.
The EFL said, “Having now fully reviewed the circumstances involved, the League has accepted Liverpool’s request after determining, albeit reluctantly, that a postponement was the only option as the Club looks to mitigate against the further risk of infection amongst its squad and staff alongside ensuring public health was protected by not travelling from Liverpool to London.”
The way Liverpool’s Covid situation was being discussed by the media and on Twitter, it seemed as if they had been swamped by cases.
I even commented it was hard to feel angry at them, given they had vaccinated their entire squad, and actively encouraged others to do the same.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when I read in the Daily Mail on Thursday morning that Liverpool seem to have fewer cases of Covid in their squad than Arsenal had on the opening day against Brentford.
Even against Chelsea, when Arsenal lost 2-0, Arsenal had five players out with Covid (plus three injuries) and the game had to go ahead.
Liverpool have three infected that they’ve named – around the same number Arsenal have had recently for Premier League matches: Joel Matip, Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker.
Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Harvey Elliott and Thiago are injured. Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby keita are at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Daily Mail also write that there are ‘more cases in the squad’ but without details, how are we to know that?
Even the ‘positive case’ for Lijnders was only ‘suspected’ when the game was postponed.
Surely if the outbreak is as ‘severe’ as claimed by Liverpool, they can at least provide a vague number, if they don’t want to release the names? More than five? More than 10?
If you remember our recent game against Leeds, they were forced to play quite a number of youngsters to make sure the fixture went ahead yet (mostly injuries, but some Covid), somehow, this is enough to get this game ‘reluctantly’ postponed?
Liverpool FC said in a statement, “The outbreak has left Liverpool without a sufficient number of players and staff to fulfil the contest as originally scheduled.”
Jurgen Klopp also has Covid, while is assistant has a ‘suspected’ case that still hasn’t been confirmed one way or the other.
This all paints a very different picture than the one Liverpool wanted us to see when they were pleading for the game to be moved, and it stinks.
When Glenn Hoddle is the voice of reason, you know things aren’t going well.
“The rules are there, the rules are there for everyone and I think that’s what you’ve got to abide by,” he told talkSPORT.
“The fact the manager won’t be there, he wasn’t there against Chelsea, they didn’t play particularly well first half but were 2-0 up.
“I think if the rules are there and you haven’t got the players to put out there then I think that’s different, but I’m sure behind the scenes they’ll be asked, “who is fit, who has got Covid, who is injured.” So I think the game’s got to go ahead.”
“You have a squad of Under 23s that aren’t included in that 25-man squad.
“Liverpool played them when they went off to play in the Club World Cup.
“So they have the players available, they’ve got Under 23s that can play, so tough, throw them in.”
Liverpool asked the EFL if they could postpone the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal as Covid apparently ravages their squad and coaching staff and their wish has been granted.
Arsenal have confirmed that their first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool has been postponed.
Releasing a statement, they said, “We are disappointed to confirm that our Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool on Thursday 6 January has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Liverpool squad and staff.
“As a result of the postponement, the order of the matches has been changed.
“The first of the two legs will now be played at Anfield on 13 January at 7.45pm.
The return leg will now be at Emirates Stadium on Thursday 20 January at 7.45pm.
“Any tickets and/or hospitality packages for this fixture will be valid for the new date.
“Any further updates will be shared on arsenal.com. If you have any additional questions, please contact our Fan Services Team on [email protected] or call 020 7619 5000. Our opening hours are 9:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
“We apologise to our fans for any disappointment and inconvenience caused.
On Tuesday evening, Liverpool FC tweeted:
We can confirm an application has been submitted for the postponement of Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final, first-leg tie with Arsenal due to an escalating number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases and player availability.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 4, 2022
Their statement added, “Liverpool Football Club can confirm an application has been submitted for the postponement of Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final, first-leg tie with Arsenal due to an escalating number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases and player availability.
“The Reds have formally requested to the EFL that the fixture is rescheduled after further suspected positive tests were registered among players and staff, allied to other factors impacting selection, including illness and injury.”
Liverpool were without nine players when they faced Chelsea at the weekend while Jurgen Klopp is also out of action due to being in isolation.
Then, on Wednesday, Liverpool cancelled their press conference, that was due to take place at 11am, with their assistant manager also coming down with covid.
Liverpool then issued another statement, saying, “Liverpool Football Club can confirm Pepijn Lijnders has returned a suspected positive test for COVID-19, further impacting the club’s preparations for Thursday’s Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal.
“As an additional consequence, this morning’s scheduled press conference to preview the fixture has been cancelled.
“The assistant manager had been due to handle pre-match media duties at the AXA Training Centre in place of Jürgen Klopp, who is continuing to isolate having tested positive for the virus last week.
“However, Lijnders recorded a positive test late on Tuesday evening, meaning he has now also gone into isolation.
“The 38-year-old took interim charge of Liverpool for the weekend draw at Chelsea in the absence of Klopp and had been set to continue at the helm at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
“Lijnders’ test result comes in addition to a number of suspected positive cases among players and football staff recorded earlier on Tuesday, which forced the cancellation of the day’s scheduled training session.
“As a result of the outbreak and the suspension of preparations, as well as other illnesses and injuries recorded within the squad, the club submitted an application to the EFL for the postponement of Thursday’s tie with Arsenal, with the news of Lijnders’ positive result coming after the request was lodged.
“The outcome of this application is still pending.”
A statement from Arsenal on Wednesday morning read, “Following a request from Liverpool FC, the English Football League (EFL) is currently considering whether our Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg match on Thursday (6 January) can go ahead.
“Liverpool have reported an outbreak of COVID-19 and the Football League is now assessing the situation.”
Should the game be rearranged, there is a limited window available to play the match, with the final scheduled to take place on 27 February.
Mikel Arteta’s pre-match press conference is due to take place at 2pm on Wednesday, by which time we should hopefully know more.
Arteta is expected to take Arsenal training today and to be in the dugout, should the game go ahead as planned, which now seems very unlikely.