By Bariyo Brian Tumuramye
Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Arsenal on Thursday has been postponed after the EFL accepted a request from the Merseyside club following further cases of Covid in their squad.
Liverpool announced earlier on Wednesday their training ground would be closed for at least 48 hours and that Jurgen Klopp’s assistant, Pep Lijnders, had tested positive. Lijnders was due to take the team as Klopp himself is also isolating.
A request for postponement was submitted on Tuesday after the latest round of testing found more cases within the first-team bubble. Klopp and three players – Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip – were forced to miss Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea after testing positive.
An EFL statement on Wednesday confirmed the rearranged fixture will now be played in a fortnight on Thursday, January 13 and will be treated as the second leg semi-final.
“The EFL has been in regular dialogue with the club 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,” a statement read.
“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.
“As a result of the postponement, the order of the ties has now changed with the first of the two legs to take place at Anfield on 13 January 2022 at 7.45pm. The rearranged game (now the 2nd leg) is scheduled to be played at the Emirates on 20 January 2022 at 7.45pm.”
Liverpool released a statement, which said: “The latest round of testing on Tuesday returned a significant number of positives, including Pepijn Lijnders, who was due to take charge of the Reds at Emirates Stadium.
“The outbreak has left Liverpool without a sufficient number of players and staff to fulfil the contest as originally scheduled.
“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 were without a total of nine players for the match at Chelsea through illness and injury, and have subsequently lost Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane to Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Confirmation of the postponement will also raise a question over Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie at home to Shrewsbury.