Liverpool were set to play what would have been their second game in three days on Tuesday against Leicester City until their first, against Leeds United on Sunday, had to be postponed due to a Covid outbreak at Leeds.
It’s a reprieve for Jürgen Klopp and his squad during a often overwhelming holiday run of fixtures, but that doesn’t mean his opinion on the Premier League’s insistence on a nigh on unworkable schedule is any different now.
“I said before the situation should not be like this,” Klopp noted at his pre-match press conference ahead of a match that will see opponents Leicester forced to play twice in three days after they lost to Manchester City on Sunday.
“We discuss this every year. I know many people say it’s tradition, and we want to play on Boxing Day—we could have played Boxing Day—but then playing the 26th and the 28th is just not right and I say that because it’s true.
“I think you can find solutions. Where is the problem to play the 26th and 29th? There are enough days for football and it would help the players, even without Covid—and some teams have a proper Covid problem in the moment.”
On Tuesday, the league’s insistence on games on the 26th and 28th will benefit the Reds. That still doesn’t make it a sensible approach to the holiday fixture list, and it’s hard to see any reason for it beyond intransigent stubbornness.
Moving the second round of holiday matches a day later would be better for players—and result in better performances for fans to watch. Yet many react as though to suggest the change is an affront to the integrity of English football.
“Boxing Day is never in doubt, we all want to play football on Boxing Day,” Klopp added. “It’s a great fixture. Everybody loves it, it’s great for the people, it’s great for the players, just really good for everybody. But for after that?
“If we don’t discuss it then it just stays like this. Maybe it stays like this anyway, but the players need help and the help needs to come from other areas. That’s why we are pretty clear about it.”