Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg tie against Arsenal has been postponed due to rising Covid cases within Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Since the club initially asked on Tuesday evening for the match to be rearranged there have been more positive tests – including assistant manager Pep Lijnders.
The Dutchman was leading the side in the absence of Klopp, who has been isolating since the weekend, and the latest positive tests forced the closure of the first-team training facility for at least 48 hours.
The EFL reluctantly accepted Liverpool’s request and the order of the ties will now be switched, so next week’s match at Anfield will be the first leg with the second leg taking place at the Emirates Stadium on January 20.
“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,” read the EFL’s statement.
Liverpool initially cancelled first-team training on Tuesday before making their application to the EFL, but since then further suspected positive tests were recorded overnight and on Wednesday morning among players and staff.
The club called off their pre-match press conference with Lijnders and were advised by public health officials to shut down the first-team training centre at their Kirkby base for at least 48 hours.
In addition to Klopp, three players – Alisson Becker, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino – were already isolating and the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Takumi Minamino, Nat Phillips, Divock Origi and Harvey Elliott all absent through injury, while Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are now at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“The outbreak has left Liverpool without a sufficient number of players and staff to fulfil the contest as originally scheduled,” a club statement read.
“Liverpool Football Club would like to place on record its 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.”
Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup fourth-round tie at home to Burnley on Friday, which would have been played at the AXA training complex, has also been postponed.
If the first team’s next match, the FA Cup third-round tie at home to Shrewsbury, is to go ahead on Sunday some players from the under-18s may be required to fill the squad.
The criteria for that competition sets a lower bar with the club obligated to name any 14 players who are registered, which is what occurred to Aston Villa – coincidentally facing Liverpool – at the third round stage a year ago when Covid forced the closure of their training ground.
As a result of the Carabao Cup semi-final being rescheduled for January 20, the Premier League said Arsenal’s home match against Burnley will now take place a day later than planned on January 23 at 2pm.