The Premier League have today confirmed that they will not give consideration to a request by Liverpool to move the kickoff of their January 2nd match against Sunderland back after their potential top of the table duel with Manchester City on December 31st was set for a late 5:30PM start.
It means that the club know that their game against Sunderland, set for 3PM two days later, will now go ahead as scheduled. Manchester City also have a 3PM kickoff on the 2nd, facing off against Burnley. However, while Liverpool lodged a formal request to have the second match pushed back, City did not.
The scheduling means that for both clubs, the final whistle of their first match of 2017 will sound less than 48 hours after their final game of 2016 kicks off. Both clubs will play two full Premier League games within a 48 hour period—or, more precisely, within a 47 hours and 20 minute period.
If there’s one silver lining for both clubs, it’s that there appears a clear hierarchy to the games, with the priority on that first match, one that could play a major role in who eventually wins the Premier League title. And if there’s a further silver lining for Liverpool, it’s that Sunderland are in trouble.
Manchester City have one advantage in that they will face Burnley at home, meaning less travel, but their opponents are currently in the top half of the table and are having a solid season—including an early upset of Liverpool. Sunderland, on the other hand, are dead last.
And as travel goes, the trip from England’s northwest to northeast is far from a difficult one—Liverpool and Sunderland are around three hours apart by road. Still, team selection and match preparation will be difficult, and if either side stumbles they will have a clear target for their ire.