Glenn Hoddle has strongly condemned the decision to allow Liverpool FC to postpone their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal on Thursday evening, stating “rules are rules”.
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 bossPep 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.
However, the decision to grant the postponement has been met with fierce opposition and critics were quick to highlight how Liverpool basically forfeited their place last season by playing their Under-23s against Aston Villa.
Hoddle leads criticism
In addition, Leyton Orient were kicked out of the competition for failing to field a side against Tottenham.
Now former England boss Hoddle has led the criticism of the decision to appeal.
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“The rules are there, the rules are there for everyone and I think that’s what you’ve got to abide by,” Hoddle said on talkSPORT.
“The fact the manager won’t be there, he wasn’t there against Chelsea, they didn’t play particularly well first half but were 2-0 up.
“I think if the rules are there and you haven’t got the players to put out there then I think that’s different. But I’m sure behind the scenes they’ll be asked: ‘Who is fit, who has got Covid, who is injured’? So I think the game’s got to go ahead.”
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That was a view shared by Danny Mills, who also used the argument about Liverpool’s tie with Aston Villa, which they lost 5-0.
“You can only call a game off if you have so many cases of Covid,” Mills explained. “You have a squad of under-23s that aren’t included in that 25-man squad.
“Liverpool played them when they went off to play in the Club World Cup.
“So they have the players available, they’ve got Under-23s that can play, so tough, throw them in.”
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.