Liverpool’s upcoming clash against Antonio Conte’s rejuvenated Tottenham outfit will no doubt be keenly watched ahead of the 4:30pm kickoff following recent cancellations of English top-flight fixtures.
The London-based outfit’s last batch of three games – including a Europa League clash with Rennes and two league fixtures against Brighton and Leicester – came into conflict with the Premier League’s COVID-19 guidance issued to clubs, though the situation is said to have calmed down somewhat.
According to the league’s official website, when it comes to the possibility of postponing a tie: “It (‘the Board’) will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.
“The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with.”
With it remaining unclear whether the positive tests taken for Reds trio Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones were verified, the Merseysiders would still technically not fall foul of the guidelines due to the lack of a squad-wide outbreak.
Likewise for Tottenham, with a number of members of the first-team squad having gradually returned throughout the week, it would seem that Conte does have a suitable XI to field.
Where things get complicated, however, is the expected recovery time for COVID contractions, as we’ll be intimately familiar with ourselves in light of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s drop in form early in the season last term after recovering from a bout of the virus.
History suggests recovery periods won’t be taken into account by the league’s hierarchy, with further news of a squad outbreak the only factor likely serious enough to warrant another postponement of a top-flight tie.