The Carabao Cup semi-final first leg between Arsenal and Liverpool, scheduled for Thursday 6 January, has been postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak at the Merseyside club.
Competition organisers the English Football League (EFL) accepted Liverpool’s request to rearrange the fixture on the grounds the club did not have enough players and staff.
The match will now become the second leg of the semi-final, with next week’s game at Anfield replacing it as the first leg.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and players Alisson, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino missed Sunday’s Premier League draw against Chelsea and further tests on Tuesday revealed more cases.
The club cancelled a training session and asked the EFL to grant a postponement. Liverpool announced on Wednesday that assistant manager Pep Lijnders had also tested positive and closed their training ground for at least 48 hours.
The Reds are also without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, who are set to play the Africa Cup of Nations.
“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,” the EFL said.
“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.
Liverpool thanked Arsenal and the EFL for accommodating the postponement, which also raises doubts about their FA Cup third round tie against Shrewsbury Town on Sunday.
“The latest round of testing on Tuesday returned a significant number of positives, including Pepijn Lijnders, who was due to take charge of the Reds at Emirates Stadium,” the club said.
“The outbreak has left Liverpool without a sufficient number of players and staff to fulfil the contest as originally scheduled.”