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Liverpool and others are effectively being punished for their high vaccine uptake

A high number of fixtures in England have been postponed owing to Covid outbreaks.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (file pic).
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

WITH FIVE out of 10 Premier League games called off this weekend and nine in total over the course of the week, the situation is becoming chaotic, with 42 positive tests reported in the top flight this week alone as the omicron variant wreaks havoc.

In the EFL meanwhile, at the time of writing, 14 fixtures scheduled for this weekend have been postponed.

Assuming the match goes ahead, Tottenham will face Liverpool this weekend having played three games fewer in the league as it stands.

Spurs have played just twice in December — on Sunday, it will be exactly two weeks since their last Premier League fixture, a 3-0 win over Norwich on the 5th.

Liverpool, by contrast, have played five times this month, most recently winning 3-1 at home to Newcastle on Thursday.

Tottenham have been one of the many sides that have suffered from a Covid outbreak, while Liverpool have not been immune, with Virgil van Dijk, Curtis Jones and Fabinho all missing yesterday’s match due to positive cases of Covid.

It seems unfair that Spurs will come into the game having effectively had a two-week break, whereas the Reds’ intense schedule has carried on as usual.

And it is a hugely important game for both sides.

Tottenham are chasing a top-four spot and Liverpool are going for the title.

Theoretically, if the Reds drop points in London this weekend, it could end up costing them the title, particularly when you consider the tiny margins that have decided City-Liverpool title run-ins in the past — Guardiola’s side famously pipped Klopp’s men to the title by a point in the 2018-19 season.

If the outcome on Sunday is disappointing from their perspective, Klopp would be entitled to express his grievances.

During the week, the German boss revealed his whole squad have at least been doubly vaccinated.

The popularity of vaccine uptake at Liverpool is in stark contrast with English football at large.

It was revealed earlier this week that 25% of players across the Championship, League One and League Two do not intend to have a Covid-19 jab, while according to the findings, only 59% of players within the EFL are double vaccinated.

So, in a way, it feels as if Liverpool are being effectively punished with a hectic schedule for their vaccine proficiency and a relatively small number of Covid cases.

It is perhaps no coincidence that they are able to fulfil their fixture commitments given their strict approach to vaccine measures, whereas other teams that undoubtedly have not played by the government’s rules in such a steadfast manner are seeing their schedule being decimated owing to Covid.

Spurs, of course, will have to fulfil those fixtures at some stage and may suffer unduly at another point in the season when the games rack up, but that is unlikely to be any consolation to Klopp, particularly if his team’s title challenge fades ultimately.  

The Reds are just one small example though and the fact that they keep winning inevitably keeps their complaints to a minimum.

The point of this article is to not to purely put the spotlight on Liverpool, but to highlight the sheer unfairness created by the present situation throughout English football — there are plenty of other teams in similar situations to Klopp’s men.

What doesn’t help is the lack of transparency from football’s hierarchy.

Granted, the Daily Mail revealed this week that the EFL guidelines required that 14 fit players including a goalkeeper are needed for a team to fulfil a fixture, but the Premier League has been silent on this issue.

It’s unclear exactly how many players need to be unavailable for a match to be called off, so it feels inconsistent when certain games are postponed, whereas the likes of Everton and Brighton are forced into proceeding as normal, and are required to play several second-choice players as a result.

There is also the obvious double standards of fans now needing vaccine passports to enter stadiums, whereas evidently, no such rule applies to the players.

One obvious solution would be to postpone all fixtures indefinitely until the current wave dies down or at the very least, give everyone a week off.

But even on this issue, there is no complete consensus. Brentford boss Thomas Frank is in favour of postponing all upcoming fixtures, and both Everton’s Rafa Benitez and Newcastle manager Eddie Howe have backed this proposal, whereas Burnley’s Sean Dyche disagrees.

With the welfare of players at stake, the Premier League have been conspicuously silent on this issue so far, but now is the time for the powers that be to show leadership and conviction by speaking up.

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One high-profile figure who has not remained silent, however, is Jurgen Klopp.

Following on from similar remarks in his press conference earlier this week, the German doubled down on this stance in his programme notes last night: 

“I won’t apologise for the view I hold on the vaccination, no matter how unpopular it might make me in certain sections of society. I’m the same privately as I am publicly on this.

“If I come across friends or people I care about in my life away from football and they tell me they haven’t had a jab yet, I do my best to encourage them to listen to experts.

“Ignore those who pretend to know. Ignore lies and misinformation. Listen to people who know best. If you do that, you end up wanting the vaccine and the booster.”

List of upcoming fixtures and postponements.


Man United v Brighton (postponed)
Aston Villa v Burnley (15.00)
Southampton v Brentford (postponed)
Warford v Crystal Palace (postponed)
West Ham v Norwich (postponed)
Leeds v Arsenal (17.30)


Everton v Leicester (postponed)
Wolves v Chelsea (14.00)
Newcastle v Man City (14.15)
Tottenham v Liverpool (16.30)

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Former Munster hooker Mike Sherry joins Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey to discuss all the goings on from one of the most insane weeks of Irish rugby news in living memory.

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