Premier League games postponed: As UK COVID cases increase, Aston Villa and Manchester United games canceled

The Premier League is grappling with a major COVID-19 outbreak across the UK, which has already forced it to postpone nine games in the space of five days.

The best flying clubs will meet on Monday to assess the next steps ahead of what has traditionally been the busiest time on the English football calendar, the series of festive fixtures that begins on December 26. While some, including Brentford manager Thomas Frank, have called for a brief game hiatus, the league and many clubs are determined to adapt to whatever games they can rather than biding their time when the situation arises. could potentially escalate.

It was a point of view presented by Jurgen Klopp, who said: “I don’t see the huge advantage of it. [stopping the Premier League] because we are coming back [and] It’s still the same. If the virus goes away, I am the first to stop and go home and wait for it to go away. But that’s probably not the case, so where’s the real benefit? We hope we can play and Tottenham can play on Sunday. “

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Ahead of next week’s meeting, five Premier League games were taken out of the role over the weekend:

Premier League matches postponed

1. Manchester United v Brighton

Initial date and time: Saturday, December 18, 7:30 a.m. ET

Matches postponed for now: Manchester United and Brighton have now both had two games delayed. The former was due to play against Brentford on Tuesday night while Brighton’s match with Tottenham last Sunday was the first in the 2020-21 season to be postponed due to COVID-19.

What do we know about the status of clubs: United have closed their training ground “for a short period” with the Premier League noting that Ralf Rangnick would not have been able to field a full squad if the game had taken place.

Brighton has instructed any staff who can work from home to do so, reducing operations at Amex Stadium and their training ground. The Seagulls were deprived of three players due to COVID-19 in their 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday night.

Manchester United’s program: Newcastle (a) December 27, Burnley (h) December 30, Wolves (h) January 3

The Brighton program: Brentford (h) December 26, Chelsea (a) December 29, Everton (a) January 2

2. Southampton v Brentford

Initial date and time: Saturday, December 18, 10 a.m.ET

Matches postponed for now: Brentford’s home game against Manchester United on Tuesday was postponed less than 24 hours before kick-off. Southampton have played in all 17 scheduled matches so far.

What do we know about the status of clubs: Ralph Hasenhuttl confirmed on Friday that “almost 100%” of the Southampton squad had been vaccinated and that there were currently no cases in their first squad. His Brentford counterpart, Thomas Frank, has called for a temporary postponement of games in England until Boxing Day. “We think we should postpone the full round of Premier League games this weekend,” he said at a press conference on Thursday morning in which he was informed that the number of cases at Brentford had gone from nine to 13.

“Covid cases are exploding in every Premier League club, everyone is facing it and having problems. Postponing this round and also the Carabao Cup round would give everyone at least a week, or four or five days to clean up and do everything on the training ground so that everything is clean and you break the chain. “

Southampton timetable: West Ham (a) December 26, Tottenham (h) December 28, Newcastle (h) January 2

The Brentford schedule: Brighton (a) December 26, Manchester City (h) December 29, Aston Villa (h) January 2

3. Watford v Crystal Palace

Initial date and time: Saturday, December 18, 10 a.m.ET

Matches postponed for now: Watford’s home game with Burnley has been significantly postponed just two and a half hours before kick-off after an outbreak within the Hornets squad. Crystal Palace has played its entire 17 games.

What do we know about the status of clubs: The Premier League said Watford had “an insufficient number of players available to complete their game” with their London Colney training ground closed due to the outbreak. The Hornets have not provided any further details on the outbreak or the number of players affected.

Watford’s schedule: Wolves (a) December 26, West Ham (h) December 28, Tottenham (h) January 1

The Crystal Palace program: Tottenham (a) December 26, Norwich (h) December 28, West Ham (h) January 1

4. West Ham v Norwich City

Initial date and time: Saturday, December 18, 10 a.m.ET

Matches postponed for now: West Ham and Norwich have come this far in the season without postponing a game.

What do we know about the status of clubs: The Premier League’s statement on Norwich appeared to be the most important of the four reasons games were called off, noting in particular the combination of “COVID-19, injuries and other illnesses” that kept them from playing the game. The league manual does not state the minimum number of players required to complete a match, although it is supposed to be 14, including a goalie. Thursday’s statement would appear to indicate that Dean Smith’s team did not hit that number.

West Ham was free of COVID-19 cases in its first team ahead of Wednesday’s game against Arsenal.

The West Ham program: Southampton (h) December 26, Watford (a) December 28, Crystal Palace (a) January 1

Norwich timetable: Arsenal (h) December 26, Crystal Palace (a) December 28, Leicester (a) January 1

5. Everton v Leicester City

Initial date and time: Sunday, December 19, 10 a.m.ET

Matches postponed for now: Everton have completed their full schedule, but Leicester’s home game against Spurs on Thursday has been postponed.

What do we know about the status of clubs: Leicester, who have closed their training ground, were due to play their game against Spurs until noon yesterday, when further positive tests in the Foxes camp were revealed. Their manager Brendan Rodgers had noted that his team struggled to find numbers to play the game due not only to COVID-19, but also injuries caused by overplaying those who were available.

Everton had enough players to play in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Thursday, although Rafael Benitez’s side are certainly less fatigued from injuries.

Everton’s program: Burnley (a) December 26, Newcastle (h) December 30, Brighton (h) January 2

The Leicester program: Man City (a) December 26, Liverpool (h) December 28, Norwich (h) January 1

6. Aston Villa vs. Burnley

Initial date and time: Saturday, December 18, 10 a.m.ET

Matches postponed therefore far: This is the second game Burnley has dramatically called off after Wednesday’s December 15 game against Watford was also called off at the last minute. They had also had a November 28 game against Tottenham suspended due to the weather. Villa had managed to play all of their scheduled matches up to this point.

What do we know about the status of clubs: Originally scheduled to be played, this match was called off at the last minute on Saturday morning after Aston Villa reported an increase in the number of positive tests within the playing team.

Aston Villa schedule: Chelsea (h) December 26, Leeds (a) December 28, Brentford (a) January 2

Burnley’s schedule: Everton (h) December 26, Manchester United (a) December 30, Leeds (a) January 2

Devices that are still on

Five Premier League games will take place this weekend, although not exempt from the impact of COVID-19. Chelsea were deprived of four senior players due to the virus for their game against Everton on Thursday, injured Ben Chilwell also tested positive. Meanwhile, Manchester City canceled their pre-match press conference after an inconclusive test for manager Pep Guardiola.

Liverpool have announced positive results for Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk ahead of their win over Newcastle, but Klopp says his side want to accomplish their game against Spurs, who have been three games less than many in the league. .

Meanwhile, Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard said his team were at a “delicate stage” awaiting PCR results from Friday’s tests.

Saturday, December 18
Leeds v Arsenal, 12:30 p.m. ET

Sunday December 19
Wolves v Chelsea, 9 a.m.ET
Newcastle v Manchester City, 9 a.m.ET
Tottenham v Liverpool, 11:30 a.m.ET

What happens next?

The clubs are expected to meet on Monday to work out their next steps with the league and many clubs keen to play every game they can during the holiday season. However, others are prepared to consider a break until the third round of FA Cup matches, scheduled for January 7-10, a so-called “firewall” that would presumably allow players to self-isolate and relax. weather the current storm.

How feasible this is is not clear. The COVID-19 wave hitting the Premier League only reflects a similar trend in the UK, where the Omicron variant has led to record-breaking positive tests.

Clarifying the rules regarding postponements will also be high on the agenda, with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta demanding clarification on the specific requirements that would lead to a match being removed from the matchlist. His side had four positive cases heading into the season opener against Brentford, but the Premier League have told them any requests to cancel the game will be denied.

“We need a lot more clarity on why these games aren’t played and what you need not to play in a game, so we’re playing in the same league. At the end of the day, the most important is that we are able to maintain in the context of the fairness of the competition and for me that is a big thing now. “

Currently, the league is evaluating any postponement request on a case-by-case basis, taking into account whether the outbreak is safely contained or is at risk of spreading further, perhaps even beyond the requesting club.

The Premier League will face a sufficient challenge in simply rescheduling all the games that have already been taken off the fixtures list. National cup competitions and European fixtures mean there are only two free half-weeks until the end of the season, spaces typically occupied by teams involved in UEFA competitions who have to catch up The matches.

There are also concerns among clubs over which players will travel in the coming weeks first to the Africa Cup of Nations and then to the World Cup qualifiers which will take place in North America, North America. South and Asia. With the UEFA Nations League games scheduled to take place one week after the Champions League final on May 28 (six days after the Premier League final round), there is very little space for the match English overflows.

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