Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel have both been pretty vocal about the risk to player welfare given the hectic December schedule and growing Coronavirus positives around the league, and it looks like they’ll be proven right, in the worst way possible. Liverpool FC played nine games in December, while Chelsea played ten. The Reds would have played ten if it wasn’t for the postponement of the Leeds fixture.
Last night, Chelsea dropped points against Brighton in a 1-1 draw, after an injury-time Danny Welbeck header. Chelsea right-back Reece James was taken off in the 26th minute of the match after a challenge from Yves Bissouma, with what seemed to be a hamstring injury. Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva were already sidelined, with Andreas Christensen also picking up a back injury in that same game, replaced by Trevor Chalobah. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Timo Werner were also absent, in isolation from positive COVID tests.
For Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago and Curtis Jones were freshly out of isolation from positive Covid-19 tests for the defeat against Leicester. Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk played, while Jones was on the bench. It remains to be seen if Thiago will play on Sunday, while Andy Robertson is suspended for this game.
Adrian, Nat Phillips, Harvey Elliott, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino were all missing through injury mid-week so we’ll assume that to be the case.
The schedule is clearly difficult for the players, even before COVID swept in. Looking through that potential absence list, it’s really difficult to see how this gruelling schedule makes the product better for fans in any way.