Saturday, January 22, 2022

Arsenal vs. Liverpool EFL Cup semifinal postponed: Emirates fixture pushed back after Reds’ COVID outbreak

Liverpool have succeeded in their bid to have their EFL Cup semifinal first leg postponed with Thursday’s match against Arsenal to now be played after the two sides face off at Anfield.

The EFL said it had “reluctantly” reached the conclusion that postponement was the only course available to it after Liverpool’s COVID-19 outbreak significantly increased over recent days. Wednesday brought news that assistant manager Pep Lijnders had joined boss Jurgen Klopp in testing positive before the club closed its training ground to mitigate the risk of further positive infections.

Liverpool will now play the first leg of the semifinal at home on Thursday, Jan. 13 before traveling to the Emirates Stadium a week later. Arsenal, meanwhile, are in talks with the Premier League over rearranging their fixture with Burnley, due to take place less than 48 hours after the second leg.

A statement from the EFL said: “The EFL has been in regular dialogue with [Liverpool] over the past 48 hours in an attempt to understand whether the tie could proceed but significant developments over this period have resulted in the club reporting an ever-increasing number of COVID cases.

“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.”

In response, Liverpool said that they “would like to place on record our thanks to the EFL and Arsenal for their understanding, as well as supporters of both clubs, as we continue to navigate through this challenging period.”

Their most recent round of testing on Tuesday led to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases within the Liverpool squad, leaving them without sufficient players to fulfil the game. The Reds had already been suffering Klopp, Alisson, Roberto Firmino, Joel Matip and three members of staff were isolating after testing positive before Sunday’s Premier League match against Chelsea.

Liverpool are scheduled to host Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup on Sunday, so far no decision has been made on the status of that fixture.

In total, 18 Premier League games have been postponed in the past month as the United Kingdom battles the omicron variant of COVID-19, including one each for Arsenal and Liverpool. An empty fixture slot must also be found for the Premier League meeting between this two at the Emirates, postponed from its scheduled date of Feb. 26 as that is the same weekend as the EFL Cup final.

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