Chelsea’s match against Manchester City is expected to go ahead on Sunday, despite an increase in positive COVID-19 cases both clubs over the past week, which already caused the postponement of City’s previous match, against Everton.
Earlier today, City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed that five of his players will be unavailable for Sunday’s match, including Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus, whose positive test results have been made public. Guardiola added that the Premier League instructed them to not confirm the names of the other three players who tested positive on Monday, though it’s been widely reported that goalkeeper Ederson is one of them.
Pep Guardiola confirms that FIVE Manchester City players have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating pic.twitter.com/h0159hhSV6— Hayters TV (@HaytersTV) January 1, 2021
Frank Lampard, in his pre-match press conference today, discussed taking a game-by-game approach for Premier League matches for the time being, due to the public health crisis. As of today, he is obviously operating under the assumption and expectation that Sunday’s fixture will be played.
Despite the rise in cases, Frank is happy enough with the protocols in place, confirming that the Premier League has returned to twice weekly testing, as in the summer, after reducing the frequency of testing to just once weekly in recent months.
“I know some people are working from home or staying at home. We are now being tested twice a week. I think that’s really important. I don’t understand why we went down to one so two is important.
“The situation at the minute is we go game by game in terms of the game being called off it’s because of positive tests around that game itself. I understand that. Let’s see how it goes because these are uncertain times.”
Lampard also confirmed that two members of Chelsea staff have tested positive for COVID-19 recently. It just goes to show that the Premier League’s bio-bubble is far from impenetrable, in spite of everyone’s best intentions.
“I think safety has to be paramount.
“When you look at our squad, I think the fact I said we have a couple of staff who have tested positive means that they are people who are working within our bubble who have babies, parents, friends, grandparents who they see when they come home from work.
“We are in an environment with Covid more contagious than we previously thought it was. I think safety is paramount as opposed to keeping the nation’s spirits up.
“I know it is not the nice thing to say, but these are tough times for everyone and we enjoy watching our football but health and safety has to come first.”
With the UK battling a new variant of the coronavirus through mutation, which is reportedly more transmittable, even more regions have moved to Tier 4, including Greater London. Once again, no Premier League teams are allowed to have fans in stadiums anywhere in the country, after those restrictions were briefly lifted last month.
NEW chart thread:— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) December 31, 2020
The latest UK Covid data paints a dire picture, with London and much of the south now in a worse position than they were at the spring peak, and hospitals struggling to cope
18% of tests in London now come back positive, and rates are climbing everywhere. pic.twitter.com/QfvscyIyhE
When asked about being prepared to stop playing matches amid the wider COVID-19 surge, Lampard put into perspective the current landscape with respect to the coronavirus in the UK and the rumored stoppages.
“Well I would have no choice would I? We had that before in March. I have to say the Premier League and clubs themselves have done everything to make the environment as safe as possible.
“As we are finding, that’s not always easy to do when people are going home and leaving the building with the numbers going up. Particularly in London, where we are at.
“I think the football authorities, Premier League, government and everybody has to be clear that it would be beneficial to stop and do a ‘circuit breaker’ or something. That’s something I don’t know about. If you are told to stop, you stop.”
- Frank Lampard, source: Football.London
Lampard is right to suggest that the health and safety is paramount, though he stops short of outright calling for a “circuit-breaker” as West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has done recently. While the Premier League and the clubs are indeed doing everything possible to ensure safety, sometimes enough is never enough in the real world.
Lampard seems to toe the company line if there ever was one with respect to these uncertain times. If a stoppage is to ever occur again, he will want a unified approach from all governing bodies.