How Manchester City’s Covid shutdown could turn the season into chaos: Club face new tests TODAY as Everton demand answers – and they could have to squeeze seven games into 16 days in May
- Manchester City’s trip to Everton on Monday was postponed due to covid outbreak
- Upcoming games against Chelsea and Manchester United are also under threat
- City are facing fixture chaos if more games have to be called off due to spread
- Chelsea and United can also ill-afford to have games postponed in January
- Further coronavirus tests of the squad are set to be undertaken on Tuesday
Manchester City are facing a fixture pile-up that could ultimately derail their season if the covid outbreak at the club escalates further.
City face a potentially season-defining 48 hours as they put their squad through more testing on Tuesday after their game against Everton on Monday night was postponed.
Sportsmail reported that three of City’s team returned positive tests on Monday, and the match at Goodison Park was called off around five hours before kick-off.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are facing a fixture pile-up due to their covid outbreak
Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus were already in self-isolation, along with two other City staff, after contracting the virus last week, before another trio of players tested positive.
The full extent of City’s outbreak is expected to become clear after another round of testing on Tuesday. The City Football Academy has been closed indefinitely and is undergoing a deep clean.
Monday’s developments leave Sunday’s visit of City to Chelsea in severe doubt and a further postponement would place the club three games behind the majority of their rivals.
Next Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Manchester United will be rearranged rather than forfeited in the event of City being unable to fulfil the tie.
City’s game against Everton on Monday was postponed due to an increase in positive tests
Rescheduling a number of games in an already truncated season would represent a significant headache, with City still in four competitions.
They have, however, been keen to stress that postponing Monday night’s match was the only logical action given the potential ramifications.
City, already six points behind league leaders Liverpool, will now spend the rest of the campaign trying to regain ground in every sense.
Should they go all the way in the Champions League – something they have yet to achieve under Pep Guardiola – they could have to squeeze seven Premier League games into just 16 days in May.
The postponed Everton clash could potentially be rearranged for the week beginning January 19, ahead of the fourth-round of the FA Cup. The Chelsea game could be moved to mid-February, in one of the weeks Manchester City have off as the last-16 of the Champions League alternates.
Finding a date to rearrange the Carabao Cup semi-final at Old Trafford will prove tricky if both sides stay in Europe.
The first available date for that could well be in late April, with the final rescheduled until April 25 just last week. City still have the opening fixture of the season to fulfil, after their game against Aston Villa in September was postponed due to their involvement in last season’s Champions League finale in Portugal in August.
That game has been slated for mid-March.
As well as City, Chelsea and Manchester United can also ill-afford postponements next month with both clubs facing European commitments in February.
‘After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day,’ a City statement read.
‘With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further among the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.
‘Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the (Everton) fixture. All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with PL and Government protocol on quarantine.’
Premier League rules state that matches should go ahead if a club has 14 available players, including a goalkeeper, although decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis and dependant on circumstances — particularly in relation to the pandemic.
The precautionary measure is understood to have taken into consideration that some of those players who tested negative on Monday may return different results on Wednesday.
City could not test twice, given the tight turnaround following Boxing Day’s fixture, and sources maintained that all involved at Goodison Park would have been exposed to unnecessary risk.
City sources suspect the sudden outbreak — seven confirmed cases since Christmas Day — may have been caused by the logistics of last week’s Carabao Cup tie at Arsenal.
While Guardiola’s team travelled to and from London on the day to minimise risk, they spent time in a hotel pre-match and fear contraction of the contagious new strain.