Due to COVID, Arsenal-Liverpool is postponed; Messi gives negative

An outbreak of coronavirus among Liverpool players and staff has forced the postponement of the semi-final first leg against Arsenal in the League Cup, adding to delays to English football caused by the omicron variant.

Chelsea also reported two cases – that of defender Thiago Silva and that of midfielder N’Golo Kante – although these did not prevent the club from beating Tottenham 2-0 in the other semi-final, which took place on Wednesday.

The English Football League, which is in charge of the cup, approved Liverpool’s request to suspend the match due to a series of positive cases at the club, which forced its training facilities to close.

Player availability had already been affected by injuries and absences from the African Cup of Nations, which deprived Liverpool of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita.

The first leg which was due to take place at Arsenal’s stadium on Thursday will now take place at Anfield on January 13. The second leg will take place at the Emirates Stadium on January 20.

“The league agreed to Liverpool’s request after determining, albeit reluctantly, that postponement was the only option as the club seek to mitigate additional infection risks to the team and among staff and to ensure the protection of public health by not traveling from Liverpool to London,” the League explained.

Liverpool thanked Arsenal and the League for their understanding “as we continue to get through this difficult time”.

Pepijn Lijnders, the assistant coach who replaced Jürgen Klopp while the Liverpool manager remains in isolation, was one of “many members of staff and players” who tested positive in the latest round of testing on Tuesday, said indicated the club.

The new positives prompted the club to close training facilities on Wednesday after consulting with public health authorities.

Tuesday’s practices have also been cancelled.

Burnley, who are in the Premier League relegation zone, are four games short of this season. Three of those games were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks in opposing teams. Twice matches have been postponed just hours before kick-off.

Competition rules state that matches postponed due to COVID-19 are considering options to play them no later than the start of the next round, which meant Liverpool had until February 27 – the date of the Wimbledon final – to play the two semi-final matches.

English football has been hugely affected by the coronavirus, with 18 Premier League matches postponed in recent weeks due to outbreaks among players.

Other major European leagues have been on winter break, with their teams just starting to return to training, encountering their own problems.

FRANCE

Lionel Messi has returned to France from Argentina after testing negative for coronavirus and will join the Paris Saint-Germain squad for training in “the next few days”, the club have reported.

But PSG defender Layvin Kurzawa has tested positive and is now in isolation. The leader of the French championship plays Sunday in Lyon.

GERMANY

Friday’s Bundesliga game between Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach could be suspended due to several cases of players with coronavirus.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said the team has 12 players, including two goalkeepers. “So we are thinking about how we can play the game and we have discussed the matter with the German football league.”

The Bavarian club reported on Wednesday that Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies is the latest to test positive for the virus, bringing the number of cases among players and fans to 10.

“He’s fine. He’s isolated at home,” Bayern said of Davies.

Leroy Sané, Dayot Upamecano, Manuel Neuer, Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso, Lucas Hernández, Tanguy Nianzou and Omar Richards, as well as assistant Dino Toppmöller, were already in quarantine.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl said on Wednesday that Bayern wanted to postpone Friday’s game but assumed it would go ahead, a view shared by Salihamidžić.

“It looks like we’re going to play, then we’ll go and win it,” Salihamidžić said.

Gladbach also have players in quarantine for the virus.

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