The Premier League show goes on despite record-high cases and 16% vaccination nay-sayers – The Warm-Up
It’s the most magical time of the year, and the Premier League insist the show must go on despite record-high Covid-19 cases and a sixth of players still unvaccinated. Elsewhere, it’s a knockout for Tottenham, FIFA are promising billions, and that Eric Cantona chip-and-celebration double is 25 years old today.
: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appeals to the assistant referee during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United
Welcome aboard! It’s full steam ahead for the Premier League, and we’re so glad you’ve joined us on this “journey”. Sure, 16% of players on this ride are unvaccinated, and yes, 90 players and staff have been positive the past week – a record high! – but isn’t this exciting. Wherever next.
On the day the government updated us with an update that there were no updates bar the fact an update will be given if a new update is necessary, and the day the Queen cancelled her Sandringham Christmas plans, the Premier League also told us their plans are to go ahead as scheduled with the festive fixtures – where possible – as well as bringing us up to speed on the vaccination rate among its players, and the current state of positive cases. It really is the most joyous time of the year.
First. The schedule. There will be no circuit breaker, and instead clubs face the prospect of playing two Premier League games in the space of three days next week with a depleted squad, unless of course they are so depleted that the game gets the green light to be postponed.
We’re at the point where clubs teetering on the edge of this 13-outfield-players-and-one-goalkeeper rule could well be hoping for another case to tip them over to the point of postponement, of which there will no doubt be a few confirmed in the coming days.
Arteta: Clubs needs ‘plan B, C and D’ amid Covid chaos
Then we come to the vaccination rates. On October 19 it was 68 per cent of players fully vaccinated (two doses), now it’s 77 per cent some two months later, while the Premier League stated 84 per cent of players are on the “vaccination journey”.
Besides getting distracted by the excitement of what a "vaccination journey” could look like if Roger Deakins got his hands on it, that’s a roundabout way of telling us 16% of players currently have no intention of getting the vaccine. A stumbling block that isn’t easily overcome, but one that may require harsher rulings from clubs and the league. See: NBA.
Then you have the 90 positive cases from the past week. It’s indicative of the current situation in the UK, a reminder why six games were postponed over the weekend, and also proof we’ve got a long way to go before the schedule is P-P free. It’ll likely be weeks.
Rennes romped to a 3-0 victory in a match they never played to send Tottenham out of Europe. That’s according to UEFA anyway, with the governing body ruling against Spurs after they were unable to field a side in their final Conference League group game due to a Covid outbreak.
It was no surprise, really, given Spurs had until December 31 to play out this fixture, and after the Premier League denied them the chance of moving back last week’s match with Leicester – which ended up being postponed anyway – to try and play this game, there was simply no room to take on Rennes in the final fortnight of 2021.
As a result, the Conference League journey is over for Spurs. What a ride it was, and though the prospect of taking on Roma in the latter rounds has gone, this could all prove to be a blessing in disguise, and to be fair, there’s a case to say it’s not a disguise at all.
Out of a third-tier European competition, and all guns blazing for the top-four charge. The draw with Liverpool outlined a shift in quality under Antonio Conte, and they are arguably the team to beat in the race for fourth, although they are currently playing catch-up with Arsenal six points ahead of them having played three games more.
Imagine our shock when FIFA declared a World Cup every two years could generate more money. £3.5 billion in fact. This was independent research carried out by a company Nielsen for FIFA – unconfirmed phone calls include lines such as “show me the money” – and this intention to sell the idea using money tells us everything we need to know, two months after Arsene Wenger said it has nothing to do with money.
Infantino: Billions to be gained from biennial World Cups
“My job is to reconcile the opinions of everyone and think about what is good for football,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. $ure is.
Wenger has said the negative response to a biennial World Cup is “emotional”, but they hardly care what the average football fan thinks, and Infantino is already confident of a majority vote would pass.
That’s despite UEFA and CONMEBOL opposing it too – you can’t help but feel pistols at dawn is around the corner.
IN OTHER NEWS
Not the time, lads
It looked as though Pep Guardiola was about to belt out the beginning of “Do they Know it's Christmas” when elaborating on why Jack Grealish and Phil Foden did not face Newcastle.
“At Christmas time I pay a lot of attention to behaviour on and off the pitch. And when off the pitch is not proper, they are not going to play," Guardiola said.
Some heart-warming content for your Tuesday morning. “Actual Klopp!”
And some bright content for your Tuesday morning. The Hazard family will be delighted with that one.
The chip, and that most iconic of Old Trafford celebrations, is 25 years old today. Merci, Eric Cantona.
With the League Cup going ahead as planned, you’ve got Arsenal against Sunderland in the first quarter-final tonight. Barcelona are also in La Liga action at Sevilla, so articles about Barca’s latest stumble are coming up tomorrow, probably.