Liverpool wants Arsenal cup match postponed over COVID
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool has requested the postponement of Thursday’s match against Arsenal in the English League Cup semifinals because of more suspected COVID-19 cases at the club.
First-team training was canceled at Liverpool on Tuesday after more positive tests among players and staff.
Liverpool said other factors impacting selection, such as injuries and players like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah having left for the African Cup of Nations, are affecting player availability for the first-leg match at Emirates Stadium.
“With no prospect of the current situation improving ahead of Thursday’s fixture and the potential for it to worsen, the club considers it both prudent and reasonable to ask for the fixture to be rescheduled,” Liverpool said Tuesday.
The English Football League said it would make a decision “as soon as possible once the circumstances have been fully reviewed.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is among those currently isolating after contracting the virus.
England has seen the most disruption caused by the coronavirus. Eighteen Premier League games have been postponed in recent weeks while other major European leagues have been on planned winter breaks, just as the omicron variant was sending case numbers surging on the continent.
One out of every 10 players in Serie A is positive with the coronavirus as the Italian league prepares to resume after a two-week break for the holidays.
Still, despite more than 60 players reported as having contracted COVID-19, full slates of 10 matches involving all 20 clubs are scheduled to be played both Thursday and Sunday.
Last-place Salernitana is the hardest hit with nine of its players having COVID-19, while clubs like Inter Milan (Edin Dzeko), Napoli (Victor Osimhen) and Juventus (Giorgio Chiellini) are each missing leading players because of the virus.
Even former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, now back with Parma in Serie B, has tested positive.
Salernitana’s matches against Venezia and Hellas Verona on Thursday and Sunday, respectively, are at risk if local health authorities block the team from playing. The southern squad already didn’t show up for its final game of 2021 at Udinese.
Inter and Juventus had reportedly sought to postpone the Italian Super Cup scheduled for next week at the San Siro in Milan but the Italian league decided to keep the game in place.
Stadium capacities have been reduced from 75% to 50% following a government decree aimed at combatting the latest outbreak and spectators must now wear FFP2 masks.
There is still a question about whether the decree requires all Serie A players to be vaccinated but that debate could end if the government requires all workers in the country to be vaccinated by Feb. 1.
While nearly all Serie A players have been vaccinated — about 98% — nearly 30 players have reportedly been resisting the vaccine.
Players on foreign clubs traveling to play Italian teams would likely be exempt from the vaccination requirement.
Bayern Munich players Leroy Sané and Dayot Upamecano have both tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the club’s current number of confirmed cases to nine.
“Both players are well and are self-isolating,” Bayern said Tuesday.
Manuel Neuer, Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso, Lucas Hernández, Tanguy Nianzou and Omar Richards, as well as assistant coach Dino Toppmöller, were already in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Bayern is scheduled to play in the Bundesliga on Friday against Borussia Mönchengladbach, which has also reported players out with infections.
Leipzig players Nordi Mukiele, Benjamin Henrichs and Dani Olmo also tested positive, joining Christopher Nkunku and Solomon Bonnah in quarantine. Leipzig is due to host Mainz on Saturday.
Also, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marius Wolf will miss Saturday’s game at former club Eintracht Frankfurt.
Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the fifth PSG player to test positive in recent days.
PSG said on its Twitter account that Italy’s No. 1 goalkeeper is self-isolating.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and Juan Bernat are among the four other players who recently had COVID-19. They were announced on Sunday as having tested positive.
But PSG said Bernat was negative in a further round of tests and that the Spanish left back will return to training on Wednesday.
There was no immediate update on Messi.
The Argentina star contracted the virus back home during the mid-season winter break, and it remains uncertain if he will recover and return in time for Sunday’s league game at Lyon.
AP Sports Writers Andrew Dampf, Steve Douglas, Ciarán Fahey and Jerome Pugmire contributed to this report.
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