The Premier League continued to be hit by COVID-19 Omicron variant increases in the UK on Thursday, with six matches postponed, including today’s Leicester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur showdown and Saturday’s Manchester United vs. Brighton meeting.
The league later added that four more weekend matches – Southampton against Brentford, Watford against Crystal Palace, West Ham United against Norwich City and Everton against Leicester – would also be postponed. The announcements mean that nine league matches have been canceled this month.
Liverpool’s Thursday match against Newcastle United started, but the Anfield club announced that Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk would miss the match after suspected positive tests. And Chelsea played Everton without Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, all absent with COVID.
In a statement released on Thursday, the league said it “understands that fans will be disappointed that these matches have been postponed and apologizes for the inconvenience and disruption. All other matches to be played this weekend are in currently scheduled to continue as planned. “
Health authorities in the UK on Thursday reported 88,376 new cases and 146 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK.
The Premier League had already tightened the guidelines on the training grounds and increased the requirements for proof of vaccination or a negative sidestream test for match day fans at stadiums, but earlier this week English Premier League top-flight privately promised to stick to the existing schedule so closely. as possible.
For Manchester United, it is the second match this week that will be canceled after Tuesday’s postponement vs. Brentford, who also now see another match delayed.
“Manchester United can confirm that our Premier League match against Brighton & Hove Albion, scheduled for Saturday 18 December at 12:30 GMT, has been postponed and will be rescheduled in due course.” a club statement read.
“The health of players and staff is our priority. Given the number of players and support staff to be isolated due to COVID-19, the club had no choice but to request that the match be rearranged. The Premier League board decided to postpone based on guidance from medical advisors.
“We will also suspend football training operations at the Carrington Training Complex for a short period of time to help reduce the risk of further transmission. We apologize for any disappointment and inconvenience to fans as a result of the postponement.”
Spurs have also seen their last two matches canceled – a UEFA Conference League match against Rennais Stadium and last weekend’s league game against Brighton – after closing their training ground in an attempt to control an outbreak that affected at least 15 players and staff.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers confirmed on Wednesday that nine players were absent due to a mix of coronavirus cases and injury. Sources have told ESPN that the picture worsened on Thursday, leading to the match being postponed about seven hours before kickoff.
Sources told ESPN that the Premier League rejected further requests for postponement, and Brighton boss Graham Potter confirmed after Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Wolves that his club had asked to have that match canceled.
Spurs are facing a major headache. They are likely to be knocked out of the Europa Conference League as they struggle to find a date to replay the Rennes match before UEFA’s deadline of 31 December.
Ironically, they had asked the Premier League to postpone their match against Leicester so they could play against Rennes instead, but now they have no match at all.
Boss Antonio Conte said on Wednesday that they had 16 senior players available to train after all first-team areas in the club’s training base reopened on Tuesday.
Tottenham are now three league games behind many of their rivals, who have also had last month’s trip to Burnley canceled at the last minute due to heavy snow.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Conte said: “The Premier League certainly did not want to postpone the match against Leicester, perhaps because we have to play against Burnley and Brighton. We postponed two matches before. I can understand, we can understand.
“On the other hand, I think we deserve to play our chance against Rennes to go to the next group. We do not find a good solution between UEFA and the Premier League, why should Tottenham pay for this? It is not fair we have to pay for a situation that is not our fault?
“I understand if we did something wrong, but in this way it is very difficult for the club, the players, the staff to understand what is happening.”