Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg clash with Arsenal has been postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the Reds’ squad.
Liverpool were without manager Jurgen Klopp for their clash with Chelsea over the weekend due to a suspected positive test, and assistant head coach Pep Lijnders took charge of the squad. However, Lijnders has now also tested positive for coronavirus, leaving the coaching staff extremely shorthanded.
The Reds’ Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal on Thursday has now been called off as they continue to deal with several Covid-enforced absences, with the club’s training ground having been closed down in an attempt to stop further cases of the virus.
When will the EFL Cup semifinal game be played?
The EFL has released a statement confirming that the game at Emirates Stadium will now be rescheduled.
The statement reads: “The first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Liverpool scheduled for Thursday 6 January 2022 has been postponed following a formal request by Liverpool due to a severe outbreak of Covid infections amongst their management and playing staff.”
Next week’s match, scheduled for January 13 at 2:45 p.m. ET as the second leg at Anfield, will now become the first leg. The initial first leg at the Emirates will now be played on January 20 at 2:45 p.m. ET and function as the second leg.
This brings into question the ability of the FA to bend the laws of the competition. The FA Cup statues state: “3.3 The Semi-Finals shall be played on a two-leg basis, the first leg to be played on the ground of the first Club drawn and the second leg played on the ground of the Club drawn second.” As Arsenal was the first team drawn, they should by rule host the first leg, but with the postponement, that has now been altered.
It’s also possible that future Liverpool fixtures are in danger of postponement. The Reds are scheduled to contest an FA Cup third round match against Shrewsbury Town this Sunday, January 9, and no word has been given about the status of that match. The Reds are then scheduled for the first (initially second) leg of the EFL Cup semifinals against Arsenal next week on January 13.
Liverpool’s squad constraints
After Liverpool’s Tuesday training session was cancelled due to the club’s struggles with coronavirus, the Reds confirmed on Wednesday that their AXA Training Centre had been temporarily closed.
Klopp’s side were without nine first-team players against Chelsea last time out, with only two, Andrew Robertson and Takumi Minamino, having any chance of returning against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup. Goalkeeper Alisson was among those who tested positive and missed the Chelsea match, meaning any more positive tests among the goalkeeper ranks could cause additional squad constraints.
Liverpool are also without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, as all three left after the Chelsea draw to join up with their respective national teams for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations. The 2022 AFCON tournament starts January 9.
With Klopp having been unable to be present in the dugout for the Reds’ draw with Chelsea, it has now been confirmed that assistant head coach Lijnders, who stepped in at Stamford Bridge, has also tested positive for Covid-19.
In addition, the youth squad is also struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak, as the U-21 side’s FA Youth Cup fixture against Burnley on Friday also being postponed. This indicates that even had Liverpool attempted to dip into the youth and reserve squads, fielding a team would be difficult.
What matches do Liverpool need rescheduled?
Liverpool now has two fixtures which required rescheduling due to COVID-19 postponements.
In addition to the EFL Cup match that was pushed back, the Reds also saw their Premier League game against Leeds on Boxing Day postponed, meaning that match will need a date to be played. No date has yet been floated for any Premier League matches pushed back during the festive period.
For Arsenal, the Gunners now have three matches that require rescheduling, with the match on December 28 against Wolves being postponed, plus the future February 12 game against Chelsea which was pushed back due to Chelsea’s involvement in the Club World Cup over that date.
When was the postponement first requested?
On Tuesday evening, the Reds confirmed that they had formally requested the first leg against Arsenal to be postponed.
Their statement read: “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.
“In response, the club halted preparations at the AXA Training Centre, meaning Tuesday’s first-team training session was cancelled. Among the considerations which led to today’s application to the EFL is the need for travelling supporters to be given as much notice as possible of any potential postponement. With no prospect of the current situation improving ahead of Thursday’s fixture and the potential for it to worsen, the club considers it both prudent and reasonable to ask for the fixture to be rescheduled. Liverpool FC will offer a further update on the application process, as well as the resumption of training, in due course.”
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