Liverpool facing nightmare fixture pile up after being handed new Arsenal date
The first leg of the Reds’ Carabao Cup semi-final showdown with the Gunners on Thursday night has been postponed, and the FA Cup meeting with Shrewsbury this weekend is also in doubt
Liverpool are facing a nightmare fixture pile up as their Carabao Cup semi final was postponed.
A widespread outbreak of Covid infection at the club’s training ground forced it to be closed and the first leg of the semi against Arsenal to be put back a week.
But their FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury is also now in doubt, with the club facing the prospect of being unable to fulfil the fixture unless they get several players clear of the virus or injury in time for the weekend.
Liverpool had “multiple” members of their staff and team hit by the Covid virus, and that forced Boss Jurgen Klopp and his coaching team to take the difficult step of closing down their Axa training headquarters.
A statement issued by the club read: “Liverpool Football Club can confirm they have taken the decision to suspend operations at the first-team training facilities after the latest round of testing revealed multiple new suspected positives.
“The decision was made after consultation with the relevant Public Health authority. The new cases are in addition to those recorded on Monday and Tuesday morning.
“Among the multiple players and staff who tested positive in the latest round was Pepijn Lijnders, resulting in the cancellation of the pre-Arsenal press conference he had been due to host this morning.”
The EFL responded to the latest outbreak of the virus at the club by agreeing to a postponement of the first leg of the semi final, which was due to be played on Thursday evening.
The league explained that they had “albeit reluctantly” accepted a delay was the “only option as the club looks to mitigate against the further risk of infection amongst its squad.”
As a result of the postponement, the order of the semi final legs has changed, with the first game now to be played at Anfield on January 13, with the second game held at the Emirates Stadium on January 20.
The league also confirmed that there has been a rule change this season, allowing clubs to ask for a postponement if they can not field 14 first team squad players.
Last season, Leyton Orient were forced to forfeit their Carabao Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur after being unable to field a team due to Covid, but different EFL rules applied then.
Earlier this season, Rochdale received a bye to round two after Harrogate Town were unable to fulfil the fixture within the required time period.
But Liverpool have been given until the final on February 27 to complete both legs of the semi final, which allows them time for players to be free of the virus.
Sunday’s FA Cup tie though, may come too soon for the depleted Liverpool squad. They have less than 10 first team squad players available at present, and with assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders also isolating after the fresh outbreak, virtually no members of Klopp’s coaching staff are left to take the team.
It leaves them with a huge fixture headache, with up to four games potentially needing new dates, as the Reds’ Premier League visit to Arsenal falls on the weekend of the EFL Cup final, and the game against Leeds was also postponed because of Covid.