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Premier League managers split on Covid pause
Category: Games
Tags: games

Jurgen Klopp says there is no benefit to stopping
This weekend’s Premier League fixture list has seen five matches fall victim to the rising Covid cases, but what do the managers think should happen next?

There have been calls in Scotland for a two-week football shutdown and for the planned winter break to be brought forward, but with very little wriggle room in a hectic calendar in England, it has left managers having to prepare for games that may not go ahead.

Premier League clubs will meet on Monday to hold talks over the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Another meeting involving managers and captains is due to be held later that week, with Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard insisting players are protected during the fresh Omicron wave and busy fixture list.

Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard has confirmed the Premier League will meet with managers and captains next week to discuss the ongoing Covid crisis in football.
“There’s all kinds of concerns and situations going on at the moment,” said Gerrard. “I just hope the Premier League and the powers that be take player welfare into consideration.”

Aston Villa’s home game against Burnley is one of just five games remaining from the weekend Premier League schedule due to Covid-19 outbreaks at other clubs.

Earlier this week, Brighton boss Graham Potter claimed it will be difficult for the Premier League to continue with the current trend of only some games being deemed worthy of postponement due to coronavirus infections among players.

Potter revealed Albion were unsuccessful in their request for Wednesday evening’s clash with Wolves – a 1-0 loss – to be rearranged following a Covid-19 and injury crisis at the club.

Graham Potter says Brighton asked the Premier League to postpone their match against Wolves due to a Covid outbreak at the club.
The depleted Seagulls were without a host of influential players for the game, with top scorer Neal Maupay and Pascal Gross the latest men to join the growing list of absentees.

Their game against Manchester United this weekend was postponed, only after a Covid-19 outbreak at the Old Trafford club.

The Premier League intends to “continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible”, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he doesn’t see the benefits of stopping the competition.

“Stopping the league is probably not the right thing but with the schedule we have to be more flexible,” said Klopp, whose players are double vaccinated and some have had boosters.

“So far football kept it pretty much outside with the testing regimes, the massive disciplinary things for the boys did really well, but this time it is really difficult.”

Klopp added: “I don’t see the massive benefit of it [stopping the Premier League] because we come back [and] it is still the same.

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol says the Premier League intends to continue its current fixture schedule despite a number of games being postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks at clubs.
“If the virus will be gone then I am the first that stops and goes home and waits until it is gone. But that is probably not the case, so where’s the real benefit of it? We hope we can play and Tottenham can play on Sunday.”

Klopp, in his programme notes ahead of the 3-1 win against Newcastle, urged fans to “trust experts” and “ignore lies” in a rallying cry for supporters to be vaccinated.

He wrote: “My message around this has always been simple and clear, I hope: I trust experts. I follow the advice of smart, educated people who know their field because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and have studied it.

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol says five Premier League games due to take place this weekend have been postponed because of coronavirus outbreaks.
“We are clearly moving back to stricter measures around the team environment and at LFC we are absolutely OK with that.

“As I have spoken about before, we have a very high take-up of the vaccine at our club and have done for a long time. It might be 100 per cent now or as close as is possible, so that’s important.

“I have no issue telling you I received my booster jab as soon as I was eligible and again that will be the case for many if not nearly all within our ranks in the coming days and weeks.”

Klopp’s side achieved a relatively comfortable victory without Virgil Van Dijk and Fabinho, who along with Curtis Jones, tested positive for Covid on the morning of the game to throw their plans into disarray.

“We are clearly moving back to stricter measures around the team environment and at LFC we are absolutely OK with that.

“As I have spoken about before, we have a very high take-up of the vaccine at our club and have done for a long time. It might be 100 per cent now or as close as is possible, so that’s important.

“I have no issue telling you I received my booster jab as soon as I was eligible and again that will be the case for many if not nearly all within our ranks in the coming days and weeks.”

Klopp’s side achieved a relatively comfortable victory without Virgil Van Dijk and Fabinho, who along with Curtis Jones, tested positive for Covid on the morning of the game to throw their plans into disarray.

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Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher admits the developing Covid situation is concerning for football and questions when games will be able to be played within an already crowded fixture schedule.
The Reds boss remains hopeful the situation has been contained but expects there to be more positives in the coming days.

“The situation is difficult for us, the whole world, and we pretty much woke up this morning and had three positive cases,” he added.

“The process we follow is a lateral flow test and then go back into the car and in this moment we had three positive tests, which is not too cool.

“We had to make the decision to send the boys home: three players out, two of them would have started today but it was not a reason to cancel a game tonight or even ask for it.

Emma Hayes said her Chelsea players’ anxiety about Covid and their fears of another Christmas without seeing families played a major part in their Champions League exit.
“They don’t earn 100,000 every week. A few days ago, we had two players struck down with Covid, and we know inevitably when we land tomorrow there will be positive cases.

“Our heads were all over the place. They’re human beings. The stress, the anxiety and the worry of having to perform in a game when you’re thinking, ‘I just want to go home, I haven’t seen my family, I’ve been to the Olympics, another Christmas alone’.

“I’m not making excuses for the players, but I can tell you that the last three days we’ve been all over the place with the worry of having to play this game.

“While fixture congestion is a thing, Covid is real and when you’re in a team environment and you know it spreads like wildfire in a team, I’m gutted for the players because we all know that performance doesn’t represent my team.

“We’ve got players who are being sick in there and who have diarrhea. They’re exhausted and maybe some of that mental anxiety plays a part in it.”

Premier League resisting calls to suspend action
In confirming the postponement of a second Manchester United match, a Premier League statement read: “It is with regret that this is the fourth Premier League fixture to have been postponed in the past week.

“While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks, it is the league’s intention to continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority.”

Despite confirming four additional postponements on Thursday evening, the Premier League added: “The league understands fans will be disappointed these games have had to be postponed and apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused.

“All other fixtures due to be played this weekend are currently scheduled to proceed as planned.”

Covid cancellations: Which PL games are off?
Brighton vs Tottenham – Sunday, December 12
Brentford vs Man Utd – Tuesday, December 14
Burnley vs Watford – Wednesday, December 15
Leicester vs Tottenham – Thursday, December 16
Man Utd vs Brighton – Saturday, December 18
Southampton vs Brentford – Saturday, December 18
Watford vs Crystal Palace – Saturday, December 18
West Ham vs Norwich – Saturday, December 18
Everton vs Leicester – Sunday, December 19
What are the Premier League rules around postponements?
The 2021/22 Premier League handbook includes Covid protocols, and states the Premier League board will “only permit the rearrangement or postponement of a league match in exceptional circumstances”.

The board make calls on a case-by-case basis, and by way of guidance, the Premier League says permission for a postponement will not be granted if a club have 14 or more players from their squad list available.

In a statement, the Premier League added it would “assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.

“The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club may come into contact with.”
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