London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side’s crucial match against Chelsea will go ahead on Sunday despite three new coronavirus cases in his camp as another Premier League fixture was called off.
Klopp refused to name the players on Friday as they were awaiting test results but forward Roberto Firmino and goalkeeper Alisson Becker were absent from pictures released by Liverpool of a club training session.
Both sides will regard the match at Stamford Bridge as a must-win game as they seek to keep pace with defending champions Manchester City, who are eight points clear at the top.
“We have three new Covid cases in the team and a few more in the staff so it’s not so cool at the moment,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference.
“I’m not able to say who it is because we have to do the whole process, get a proper PCR (test), but you will see the day after tomorrow on the team sheet — it will be pretty clear who is affected or infected.”
The German, whose side are third in the table, a point behind Chelsea, added: “We never had this proper outbreak where 15 to 20 players had it. For us it is every day, another one, stuff happens more and more often.
“It’s like a lottery in the morning, waiting for the result. It is pretty much day-by-day, always one case, then another one.
“In this moment (we will) probably not (ask for a postponement) but we don’t know how it will look in a few hours.”
In addition to the three Covid cases, the injured Takumi Minamino and Thiago Alcantara will miss the trip to Chelsea.
Klopp’s comments came as Southampton’s Premier League match at home to Newcastle on Sunday was postponed due to Covid cases in the visitors’ camp.
The game at St Mary’s is the second in Premier League matchweek 21 to be postponed, following the announcement on Thursday that the New Year’s Day clash between Leicester and Norwich was off.
– Arteta absence –
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he was frustrated to miss Saturday’s match against City as he isolates following a second positive test.
“It will be very strange,” said Arteta, whose team are fourth in the table. “I will need a big room so I can walk and move a little bit, because I won’t be able to stand on my sofa.”
The Spaniard, who also had coronavirus in March 2020, added: “It is a big, big game for us and it is a very frustrating thing to not be able to be there helping the team.
“But I will do my best from here, with everything that I can do, and we have prepared for every scenario possible and they know what we have to do.”
Wolves boss Bruno Lage admitted even his players were unsure if they would be fit to face Manchester United on Monday after a virus outbreak forced the postponement of this week’s trip to Arsenal.
“After 10 days without playing, in your mind, to be ready to play is difficult,” said Lage. “Today I was talking with a player and I asked ‘are you ready to play?’
“He said: ‘I really don’t know’. After 10 days without playing and training you are slow to take the right decisions.”
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