With Liverpool’s Covid outbreak growing worse by the day and with assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders joining Jürgen Klopp in isolation while rumours of player positives swirl on social media and training is shut down, the EFL today took the step of officially postponing Thursday’s League Cup semi-final against Arsenal.
Liverpool reached out to the cup’s organisers, the English Football League, on Tuesday and the governing body say that they have been in contact with the club over the past two days as the case numbers at the club have grown to the point where the Reds would likely be unable to field a competitive squad. The EFL’s statement on the matter, in full, reads:
The first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Liverpool scheduled for Thursday 6 January 2022 has been postponed following a formal request by Liverpool due to a severe outbreak of COVID infections amongst their management and playing staff.
The EFL has been in regular dialogue with the Club over the past 48 hours in an attempt to understand whether the tie could proceed but significant developments over this period have resulted in the Club reporting an ever-increasing number of COVID cases.
Having now fully reviewed the circumstances involved, the League has accepted Liverpool’s request after determining, albeit reluctantly, that a postponement was the only option as the Club looks to mitigate against the further risk of infection amongst its squad and staff alongside ensuring public health was protected by not travelling from Liverpool to London.
As a result of the postponement the order of the ties has now changed with the first of the two-legs to take place at Anfield on 13 January 2022 at 7.45pm. The rearranged game (now the 2nd leg) is scheduled to be played at the Emirates on 20 January 2022 at 7.45pm.
Of all the options available, attempting to maintain the second leg as scheduled and delaying what would have been the first leg until the 20th seems like the most reasonable of the options, and the EFL will have been eager to ensure that Liverpool would be able to field a competitive squad.
A situation where the Reds ran out a youth side to be demolished by Arsenal—as the youth were 5-0 by Aston Villa a few years ago while the senior players were at the Club World Cup—would have made the second leg meaningless, undermined competition integrity, and upset broadcasters and advertisers.
The question now will be what kind of a state the Liverpool squad will be in for the scheduled first leg in eight days—and, in other competition news, what will happen to the currently scheduled FA Cup third round tie against Shrewsbury on Sunday.