Liverpool’s Boxing Day match with Leeds United has been postponed after a number of Covid cases were identified amongst Marcelo Bielsa’s playing squad. The game was due to take place at 12.30 at Anfield.
The Premier League confirmed that they had received a request from Leeds to call off the fixture and ‘regrettably’ obliged. A similar case was put forward by Watford, who remain in the middle of a Covid outbreak, and consequently their game with Wolverhampton Wanderers has also been postponed.
A Premier League statement read: “The Board today was able to make its decisions in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their supporters. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those fans’ festive plans.
“The League is aware that the decision to postpone these two matches will disappoint supporters and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games.
“The League aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is the priority. The League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk on a matchday.”
These latest postponements come after six matches were called off in the last matchday due to similar Covid issues amongst a plethora of Premier League clubs.
Leeds training ground shut
Leeds confirmed that their Thorp Arch training ground will also be closed on the advice of Public Health England. “We are disappointed to confirm that our Boxing Day fixture with Liverpool has been postponed following five new positive COVID cases within the first-team squad and staff,” the club’s statement read.
“All of the cases we have experienced are asymptomatic which we believe is due to our high vaccine take up.
“The positive cases, combined with our well documented injury issues, means that we would not have enough recognised first-team players to meet the Premier League requirements for the fixture. The training ground at Thorp Arch will be closed for a period of two days on the advice of Public Health England.”
The postponement of this game is ironic for Liverpool. During Monday’s meeting of Premier League clubs’ chief executives, Liverpool called for one of the round of games between Christmas and New Year to be moved on a player welfare basis. But it was decided to continue with the current festive schedule despite the loss of players to Covid and injuries.
Liverpool faced the prospect of playing two games in the space of 55 hours, with a trip to Leicester City following the Leeds game, something that Pep Lijnders, Liverpool’s assistant manager, called ‘absurd’.