Liverpool face fixture pile-up chaos after League Cup semi-final with Arsenal is postponed after Covid outbreak

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders tests positive for Covid to put Arsenal semi-final in further doubt - GETTY IMAGES
Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders tests positive for Covid to put Arsenal semi-final in further doubt - GETTY IMAGES

Liverpool face January fixture chaos after their plea to postpone the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal was granted on Wednesday due to the severity of the club’s Covid outbreak.

The English Football League accepted Liverpool’s appeal for the match to be rescheduled due to a lack of players and staff. It was due to be played at the Emirates on Thursday night but has been pushed back a fortnight to Jan 20, when it will become the second leg. The first leg will now be the game at Anfield on Jan 13.

The repercussions for Jurgen Klopp’s side mean they now have five fixtures in a 15-day period, taking in both legs of their tie with Arsenal, two Premier League fixtures and the FA Cup third round.

Sunday’s meeting with Shrewsbury Town is expected to go ahead as planned despite Liverpool closing down their training ground until tomorrow amid rising cases.

Liverpool postponed tomorrow’s FA Youth Cup tie with Burnley because they anticipate that many of their academy players will now be required to step up to first-team duty against Shrewsbury.

The situation has rapidly deteriorated at Anfield over the past few days. Klopp has been in isolation since last Saturday when he tested positive ahead of the final training session before Liverpool played Chelsea.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, striker Roberto Firmino and defender Joel Matip had delivered positive tests a day earlier. Providing they test negative before the weekend, they should all be out of isolation by Sunday. However, the daily testing at the AXA training centre in Kirkby delivered further bad news through the week, and on Wednesday morning Klopp’s assistant, Pep Lijnders, tested positive with several more players and staff were forced into self-isolation.

Lijnders’ scheduled pre-match press conference ahead of the first leg was immediately postponed, and within an hour Liverpool announced the temporary shutdown of all first-team operations.

“The decision was made after consultation with the relevant public health authority,” read a club statement.

The flurry of new positive tests came after Liverpool had made their approach to the EFL, warning they would not have the players and staff to meet the necessary criteria for their semi-final, first leg.

With so many senior staff and players unavailable, the EFL board had no option but to rearrange the dates. It means Arsenal will have the advantage of playing the second leg at home.

An EFL statement read: “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.”

There are repercussions for Arsenal, who also face five games in 15 days, although unlike Liverpool they do not have upcoming European commitments to consider.

The rescheduling of the match at the Emirates means that Arsenal’s derby with Tottenham Hotspur will now fall between the two semi-final legs.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was expected to rotate his team on Sunday, when they face Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, but will be far more reluctant to do so for a league game of such importance. The club’s Premier League match against Burnley, originally scheduled on Jan 22, has subsequently been moved to Jan 23.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have been charged by the Football Association for allegedly failing to ensure their players “conducted themselves in an orderly fashion” following a red card in their match against Manchester City last Saturday.

The club has until tomorrow to respond to the charge, which centres on the dismissal of Gabriel Magalhaes in the 59th minute of City’s 2-1 victory at the Emirates, although it is understood they will not be appealing.

Gabriel was shown a second yellow card for a foul on City forward Gabriel Jesus, just a few minutes after he had been booked for dissent in the aftermath of a penalty scored by Riyad Mahrez.

The Brazilian, and a number of his Arsenal team-mates, reacted furiously to the decision and immediately surrounded referee Stuart Attwell.

Arsenal have been charged with a breach of FA Rule E20.1. Crystal Palace and Aston Villa were both fined earlier this season for breaching the same rule, with Palace fined £45,000 for two breaches and Villa fined £20,000 for one breach.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting