Liverpool have formally requested that tomorrow night’s EFL Cup fixture with Arsenal be postponed, creating the possibility of further fixture chaos trying to complete this season’s competition.
Jurgen Klopp’s team had been scheduled to play their semi-final first leg away to Arsenal this week but have been dealing with a Covid outbreak in recent days, with Klopp missing Sunday’s Premier League draw at Chelsea along with Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip following suspected positive tests.
Klopp also has Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita away with their countries at the African Cup of Nations, but the club’s request for a postponement is linked to illness and injury. Liverpool have suffered more coronavirus cases and were forced to cancel first-team training at their Kirkby base yesterday.
A club 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. 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.”
The next step will be whether the competition organisers accept Liverpool’s request for the first match of the two-legged tie to be postponed. They were due to host the conclusion of the semi-final the following week, on January 13.
An EFL spokesperson said: “The League has received a request from Liverpool FC to postpone Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg versus Arsenal FC which will now be considered in accordance with the competition rules as set out at the start of the season alongside information submitted by the club.
“We will look to confirm the league’s position as soon as possible once the circumstances have been fully reviewed.”
Liverpool previously had their St Stephen’s Day fixture postponed after an outbreak in the Leeds United camp. That Premier League fixture will now need to be rearranged for the second half of the season.
The League Cup final is scheduled for February 27 at Wembley, during which time top-flight teams will be in the middle of congested schedules to play matches postponed during a festive period severely disrupted by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
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Klopp spoke about the outbreak ahead of the Chelsea game, which he missed, saying Liverpool have been gradually hit by infections, rather than given blocks of players picking up the virus.
“We never had this proper outbreak where 15 to 20 players had it. It’s like a lottery in the morning, waiting for the result. It is pretty much day-by-day, always one case,” he said.
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