Clubs should not be allowed to bend the rules in order to win promotion or avoid relegation, says Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder. The Blades are currently third-from-bottom of the Championship and they have been hit with an eight match ban for fielding an ineligible player against Aston Villa on 2nd February, but face a battle against Yeovil Town on Friday night.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has said that if rival Premier League teams use COVID-19 as a pretext to postpone matches, he would be “extremely upset.”
Burnley’s match against Leicester City was the latest match to be canceled on Friday, with the league citing “COVID-19 instances and injuries” as the reason for the cancellation.
– Don’t have access to ESPN? Get immediate access
After an epidemic that manager Jurgen Klopp subsequently revealed comprised a slew of false positive tests, Liverpool were successful in delaying their Carabao Cup quarterfinal first leg against Arsenal. Arsenal are considering applying to have Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur rescheduled because they are unable to reach the league’s requirement of 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper owing to COVID, injuries, bans, and players away at the Africa Cup of Nations.
When asked whether certain clubs were breaking the rules to have games rescheduled, Tuchel stated, “I really, passionately hope that is not the case because otherwise I would be very, very furious.”
“We’re doing all we can to make games happen, and we were forced to play when we didn’t want to. So all I can do is hope that the regulations are the same for everyone.”
Chelsea had a plea to cancel their trip to Wolves last month turned down after many COVID-19 instances in previous months. Tuchel’s team slipped behind Manchester City, who they meet on Saturday, after the game finished 0-0.
Thomas Tuchel has said that if Premier League teams use COVID-19 as a pretext to postpone matches, he would be furious. Chelsea FC/Darren Walsh/Getty Images
Andreas Christensen tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, according to Tuchel, and will miss the game against City, who will be looking to extend their 10-point advantage at the top of the table.
When asked whether Chelsea’s championship ambitions would be dashed if they lost at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, Tuchel said, “Maybe.” What are the chances? As far as I’m concerned, the major change so far this season is that they’ve coped better with injuries and the COVID problem.
“Perhaps it’s chance, maybe they’re just better at it, but they have fewer important player injuries and less days off.” They do not have COVID, like we had for many weeks. This is a significant difference because we had several unneeded draws over the season, and when you have your whole team on the field, you create an environment that pushes everyone to their limits.
“If you want to compete with Man City, you must be on the cutting edge and at the top of your game. They are the gold standard. They are now the top team in England. This is something we must acknowledge.”
Following last week’s outbreak, City manager Pep Guardiola claimed on Friday that there are more COVID-19 instances within the club, however he did not clarify whether the latest cases are among players or staff. There was no indication of the number of new instances.
Guardiola and his assistant Juanma Lillo were among seven first-team players and 14 backroom personnel who were isolated for COVID-19-related reasons last Thursday, according to City.
“We have some fresh situations, they want privacy, therefore I can’t tell,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday, adding that certain players who missed the Swindon game would continue to be unavailable due to positive test results.
“We fielded 11 first-team players against Aston Villa. Four or five academy players have been on the bench in the previous six or seven games. We’re in the same boat as the rest of the clubs.
“Previously, we attempted to plan the following few days, but we’ve learned to take it day by day, making choices a few hours before a training session or game since we may be OK and then have positive instances in four or five hours.”