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Arsenal-Liverpool Carabao Cup semifinal postponed

Liverpool are in the midst of a COVID outbreak.

Liverpool Training Session Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semifinal first leg against Liverpool has been postponed at Liverpool’s behest. The Reds made a formal request to the EFL to have the match delayed, which after deliberation, was “reluctantly” granted to “mitigate against the further risk of infection amongst its squad and staff alongside ensuring public health was protected by not traveling from Liverpool to London.” Liverpool are missing a number of key players and staff (including Jurgen Klopp and assistant Pep Lijnders) through COVID, injuries, and AFCON.

Now, instead of having the Carabao Cup matches sandwiched around an FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest, Arsenal have to play Liverpool-Tottenham-Liverpool on the 13th, 16th, and 20th. It’s quite the inconvenience for Arsenal and will absolutely affect their lineup and player rotation.

It’s also the right decision.

It’s tough to be too upset about the decision-makers (seemingly, finally) figuring out what an outbreak at a club is and how to handle it properly. Positive tests over a handful of days at a club likely means there are additional positives on the way. The health and safety of players, staff, and the public comes first. You’ve got to shut clubs down and allow for quarantine / isolation.

Sidenote: miss me with using people traveling to the match from Liverpool to London as a justification for the postponement - just play the match without fans. But that’s not going to happen because they want the money.

Any COVID-related postponement will sting Arsenal supporters (and Mikel Arteta if you read between the lines of his not-so-subtle comments) in particular because the Gunners detected a COVID outbreak the day before the season-opening match at Brentford but were made to play. They lost a match they probably would have won (or at least drawn) with a full, healthy squad. Essentially, Arsenal got the short end of the stick because they were the first club in the Premier League to have a COVID outbreak.

That disparate impact creates a competitive balance problem. It is unfair to Arsenal. Unfortunately, them’s the breaks. As I said, health and safety should come first. Neither fairness nor consistency is a justification for continuing to do the wrong thing — playing matches during ongoing outbreaks at clubs.

It’s just a bummer that that Gunners get got coming and going. We’re totally within our rights to be upset about it. Sadly, that’s life. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you just have to live with it. But that doesn’t invalidate your “hey, this sucks” reaction, either.