New date agreed, but Liverpool lose key advantage as Arsenal Carabao Cup tie postponed
The EFL have confirmed that they have postponed Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg between Arsenal and Liverpool, following a coronavirus outbreak affecting the Reds.
Liverpool have been suffering mounting Covid-19 concerns for a number of weeks. Initially, a cohort of players including Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho tested positive.
Manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed last Friday that three more first-team players had returned a positive test.
However, he joined them and also missed last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea. On Wednesday, meanwhile, assistant Liverpool boss Pep Lijnders also returned a positive test.
Liverpool submitted a formal request to have the match postponed on Tuesday evening. Indeed, they had to cancel training to avoid any further infection.
The match subsequently hung in the balance, but the EFL confirmed the postponement on Wednesday afternoon. They admitted that a “severe outbreak” of COVID infections at Liverpool was responsible.
As a result, the first leg of the semi-final will now take place next Thursday, which was the original date for the second leg.
The return match will be on Thursday January 20. Liverpool were originally going to play the second leg at Anfield, but they have now lost that advantage.
EFL statement on Carabao Cup tie
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A statement read: “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.”
It also remains unclear whether Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round clash with Shrewsbury on Sunday will go ahead.
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Liverpool hope to get the situation under control in the coming days and minimise their schedule interference.
The Carabao Cup rearrangement means they play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg next Thursday. In between the first and second legs, they face Brentford in the Premier League.
Liverpool backed to sign Arsenal star
In other news, Liverpool have been backed to sign Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka.
The Reds have relied for a long time on the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. However, the trio will all be 30 by next summer and it remains unclear if they will all renew.
While Diogo Jota, 25, represents the more long-term future of Liverpool’s attacking ranks, they have supposedly shortlisted Saka, 20, as a transfer target.
And one pundit has said that he can “absolutely” see the England international at Anfield.
Nevertheless, Noel Whelan pointed out the major obstacle of his current role in Arsenal’s rebuild.