Manchester City’s tie with Everton, which was due to take place yesterday, has been postponed on medical grounds following a board meeting with the Premier League over the former’s Covid-19 outbreak.
The timing, to say the least, is extremely suspicious; it’s almost as if City were due a tie with a high-flying Everton side who’ve won four games on the bounce.
With that in mind, we couldn’t possibly think of a reason why the club wouldn’t want to play against Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees.
Of course, we accept that this is conspiratorial thinking, as perhaps the Manchester club’s oil-fuelled squad did indeed have fewer than the 14 players available to be called upon.
But the idea that Pep Guardiola didn’t have 14 players to string together from both his senior squad and the club’s U21s – which clubs are reportedly, according to the Daily Mail, supposed to dip into, if necessary – is frankly ludicrous to suggest.
According to The Guardian: “City’s training ground has been closed for an indeterminate period after a number of their players tested positive for Covid-19 following the latest round of testing.
“The club had confirmed four positive tests on Christmas Day, including those for Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus, with unconfirmed reports that a further three players have now tested positive.”
It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s hardly ruled out City’s entire squad, including their available youth options.
Let’s all be honest here, the Premier League has made a u-turn with this postponement, regardless of the intentions behind such a decision.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re always going to be in favour of player safety first, but why bother setting out such rules to deal with a congested season in the first place, only then to later go back on them? Where do we now draw the line?
If Jurgen Klopp fancies postponing the upcoming fixture against Newcastle to give Thiago Alcantara a longer recovery period, is that okay, as long as Liverpool have seven players out with Covid-19?
Will every club be able to benefit from the Premier League equivalent of a high school doctor’s note, saving those less enthusiastic about the prospect of a potentially testing fixture from partaking in the event?
We understand that these aren’t easy questions for the league to answer, but those at the top have to start laying down some ground rules that are actually going to stick, if there is to be any hope of having the season played to completion.
These decisions will exacerbate the fixture congestion, so it’s fundamental that the Premier League gives serious thought to the matter.