Traditionally one of the highlights of the English Premier League, ‘Boxing Day’ will not be as festive this year as UK and Premier League clubs face an exponential number of cases of the Omicron variant. Three matches scheduled for this Sunday have been postponed. If last year most English fans had to follow matches at home because they were held behind closed gates, this season the players are missing.
Nearly 100 positive cases from elite club rosters and technical bodies were reported last week, while the UK recorded a record number of Covid-19 infections (122,000 cases in 24 hours). A total of 13 games have been postponed in recent weeks, three of them corresponding to Boxing Day (round 19): Liverpool-Leeds, Wolverhampton-Watford and Burnley-Everton.
How can I schedule late games with matches until January 3 every day except December 31 on a preloaded calendar?
On Thursday, several videoconferences were held between the Premier League, club coaches and players. But due to the high risks, both sporting and economic, around ‘Boxing Day’, it has not been decided to temporarily postpone the championship. No more than closed gates or loops of limited capacity, as in Wales and Scotland.
“There’s a wall ahead. You can say or ask what you want, but all the decisions have already been made,” Tottenham coach Antonio Conte, whose team has been particularly affected by COVID-19, said. Three games behind.
Along with their Liverpool counterpart, Jurgen Klopp, the two defended the lack of a single game of the League Cup semi-finals (Chelsea-Tottenham and Arsenal-Liverpool) due in early January, as happened last year, because of the pandemic.
Manchester United coach Ralph Rangnick even claimed a complete suspension from the competition. Her team, which finished sixth in the Premier League, has faced several delays and has not played since 11 December. Now a series of games await them, starting with Monday’s visit to Newcastle, who are last on the table.
Leaders Manchester City, after losing to the “Magpies” (4-0) and a 7-0 carnage at Leeds, will host Leicester (9th) this Sunday. The Pep Guardiola-led side are three points ahead of Liverpool, who postponed their game against Leeds.
And four days after qualifying for the League Cup semi-finals, Chelsea (3rd), Arsenal (4th) and Tottenham (seventh) will play on Sunday.
The ‘Blues’ visit Aston Villa (10th), while the ‘Gunners’ have a more accessible away game against Lantern Norwich. Tottenham (7th) welcomes its neighbors from Crystal Palace (11th). So you have to wait until early 2022 to see big matches like Arsenal vs Manchester City on January 1 and Chelsea vs Liverpool a day later.
And that is if Covid-19 doesn’t disrupt the festivities further.
Schedule for the 19th round of the English Premier League (Brasilia time):
(13h00) West Ham – Southampton
Tottenham – Crystal Palace
Norwich City – Arsenal
Manchester City – Leicester
(15h30) Aston Villa – Chelsea
(18h00) Brighton – Brentford
(18h00) Newcastle – Manchester United
Burnley – Everton
LIVERPOOL – LEEDS
Wolverhampton – Watford