Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard revealed his “constant paranoia” over his players’ medical status on Friday after the spiraling coronavirus crisis forced a plethora of Premier League postponements. Five of the ten games scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday have been cancelled, bringing the total number of postponed top games from the past week to nine. Villa’s clash with Burnley was yet to go on, but Gerrard admitted that could soon change after two games this week were postponed just hours before kick-off.
“There’s definitely a constant paranoia,” Gerrard said. “Even now we’re playing in 24 hours, I have a team I want to play against, but it could change.
“I’m actually scared to look at my phone right now because every time the doctor calls me, something changes.”
Premier League clubs will meet on Monday to discuss the crisis, and divisions are emerging over whether to temporarily halt the season as a fire breaker for infections or to continue.
The spate of virus cases in the midst of the most hectic period of the English football calendar has exacerbated the chaos, with some managers raising concerns about possible damage to the integrity of the league.
Between this weekend and January 3, four rounds of Premier League matches are scheduled.
The English Football League (EFL), which oversees the three divisions under the Premier League, is also suffering. Nineteen games have been canceled this weekend, with only 17 going ahead.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said it could soon become impossible to maintain the schedule as squads become overstretched with absences and injuries from Covid.
The Reds were left without Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Curtis Jones on Thursday for their 3-1 win over Newcastle after testing positive for Covid.
“With smaller squads, smaller squads, you can’t play that schedule,” Klopp said.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he could be forced to make “crazy” decisions by rushing N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic back from injury caused by infections at the club.
Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi missed Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Everton after testing positive.
“No more positive tests, but tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon the lottery starts again,” Tuchel said Friday.
“Maybe we’re forced to do the crazy things we normally wouldn’t do. But what’s normal? We miss protagonists and find solutions.”
Manchester City’s preparations for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle have been disrupted by an unclear test result for manager Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola now has to wait for the result of a PCR test before he knows if he can lead his side at St James’s Park.
Struggling Newcastle could benefit from a schedule shutdown.
The Magpies are in second place but will be able to call on the resources of the Saudi state fund in the January transfer window to try to dig themselves out of the relegation problems.
“A decision has to be made to ensure integrity in the league. I think it’s on the cutting edge,” said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.
Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Leeds on Saturday, Gunners coach Mikel Arteta called for clear rules on when matches should be postponed.
Arsenal’s opening game of the season went ahead at Brentford, even though they had some positives in the squad.
“We need more clarity on why those games aren’t being played and what you need to not play a game so you can keep the competition fair,” the Spaniard said.
The EFL revealed on Thursday that 25 percent of its players had no intention of getting vaccinated, despite the rising number of coronavirus cases in Britain.
Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston said footballers should get the jab because it “is a socially responsible thing to do”.
“The facts speak for themselves,” he said. “The vast majority of those seriously ill from Covid in hospital have not been vaccinated.
“The most important thing anyone – including footballers – can do to protect themselves, colleagues and loved ones is to get vaccinated and get a booster.”
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