Newcastle United match now in severe doubt as 13th Premier League game postponed
Breaking news on Friday morning, sees we now have yet another Premier League match that has been called off.
It is the thirteenth Premier League game this season / month to fall victim to Covid cases amongst players and staff at clubs.
It also means we now have three of the nine Premier League matches postponed that were due to take place on Boxing Day.
The official Premier League announcement (see below) on Christmas Eve morning, seeing Burnley v Everton postponed.
Rafa Benitez had raged (see below) against the Premier League on Thursday due to them refusing to allow this game to be called off, due to a combination of injuries and Covid cases.
A change of heart in the past 24 hours then from the authorities, the PL statement mentions ‘further injuries’, but no doubt many sceptics will believe that it is more a case of the Premier League finally bowing to pressure from Everton.
This decision must surely then put the Everton v Newcastle match in doubt on Thursday 30 December, as it is only four days later.
From purely selfish football reasons regarding Newcastle United, it is a balance. If the Everton game was postponed against NUFC, it would then give Eddie Howe and his players six days in between playing Man Utd on 27 December and Southampton away on Sunday 2 January. However, it it was a seriously weakened Everton side on 30 December, would you rather it went ahead?
The 13 Premier League games cancelled so far:
Sunday 12 December
Brighton v Tottenham
Tuesday 14 December
Brentford v Man Utd
Wednesday 15 December
Burnley v Watford
Thursday 16 December
Leicester v Tottenham
Saturday 18 December
Aston Villa v Burnley
Man Utd v Brighton
Southampton v Brentford
Watford v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Norwich
Sunday 19 December
Everton v Leicester
Sunday 26 December
Burnley v Everton
Liverpool v Leeds
Wolves v Watford
Premier League official announcement – 24 December 2021:
The Premier League Board has this morning regrettably approved Everton’s request to postpone their Boxing Day away fixture at Burnley.
Everton were due to travel to Turf Moor to play on Sunday, at 15:00 GMT. The Board reviewed the club’s request today to postpone the match following further injuries to their squad. They concluded that the club will not be able to fulfil their fixture this weekend as a result of an insufficient number of players available to play due to COVID-19 cases and injuries.
The Board this morning was able to make its decision in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their fans. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those supporters’ festive plans.
The League is aware that the decisions this week to postpone three matches on Boxing Day will disappoint supporters, and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games.
The League aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is our priority. Where possible, the League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk on a matchday.
The Board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and adapted COVID-19 postponement guidance, implemented in light of the new Omicron variant.
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. Click here to read more on the Premier League’s match postponement process.
While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is the clubs’ and the League’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution.
In light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced Emergency Measures. These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time.’
Rafa Benitez press conference ahead of Everton game at Burnley on Boxing Day – 23 December 2021:
“We have six injuries and five players with Covid.
“I am really surprised we are playing this game.
“We have followed all the rules, we have done lateral flows every day, we do the PCRs and we have worn the masks.
“We have players in three different dressing rooms [to reduce the risk of transmission].
“But we cannot control if you go to a game, if a player is positive but has not got any symptoms, he can pass the virus to the others.
“After we played against Chelsea, we found we have five positives.
“We have nine outfield players and three keepers.
“And then we have to bring five new young players into the team, who are not even 21 years old.
“We have players who have knocks and we have to push them.
“Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] has been out for two months and maybe has to play for 90 minutes.
“It is a massive risk.
“We have to wait to see which players are available.
“It is a difficult situation. When you talk about what is going on and the number of Covid cases in the country, we will have more and more cases every day.
“I don’t know the conditions of every club. I know our situation, we have six injuries, five players with Covid and now we have to pick players who have been out for a while or young players, and we have to take a risk putting them on the pitch and possibly in different positions.
“It will not be easy and I think it is not fair.
“What teams around Burnley and around us [in the Premier League table] will think in terms of the integrity of the league, I don’t know. Clearly, in this case, it is a surprise that we have to play this game.
“Now, I have to think about if I have 11 players fit and where can I put them.”
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