Chelsea’s clash with Brighton and Hove Albion WILL go ahead despite a devastating outbreak of the bubonic plague. The rare but highly-infectious disease has left 16 players, as well as six members of Chelsea’s coaching staff, hospitalised, with at least four expected to die.
Chelsea filed a request over the weekend asking for Tuesday night’s tie to be postponed. However, Premier League bosses rejected their application, insisting that Chelsea give their U12s a chance – the only age group at Cobham currently unaffected by the outbreak. It’s understood, 11-year-old Archie Butler-Port and 9-year-old Duron Walker-Carter will join up with the first-team squad on Monday, pending the approval of their respective headteachers.
Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes is now likely to step in for the bedridden Thomas Tuchel, who tested positive for the plague on Saturday evening. Speaking from his hospital bed, Tuchel seemed irate, telling reporters via video link: ‘It’s a joke, we have 22 cases of the plague but apparently no case as far as the League is concerned. So much for player safety, I suppose.’
Elsewhere, Liverpool’s Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal has been called off after the mother of a Liverpool ball boy tested positive for Covid-19. The game will now take place after the conclusion of the African Cup of Nations.
After a 6th successive Anfield defeat, and with Liverpool’s title defence in tatters, it’s believed Jurgen Klopp is regretting ‘giving it the big’un’ after winning his first Premier League trophy.
The accusation was first put to him by Frank Lampard following a tense touchline bust-up last July, with the ex-Chelsea boss telling Klopp, ‘only title you’ve ever won and you’re f***ing giving it the big un, f*** off!’
While Klopp initially laughed off Lampard’s suggestions, sources close to the Liverpool boss say the German has grown increasingly superstitious about the ex-Chelsea man’s comments and has questioned privately whether Lampard was right. A concerned Klopp reportedly told one assistant: ‘The success has gone to our heads. We’ve known all along that Trent can’t defend. And we know why nobody notices Firmino’s contributions… because he doesn’t f***ing make any. How could we have been so naive?!’
In recent weeks, in a bid to reverse a lacklustre run of results which has left his side labouring in 8th, the Liverpool boss has been drilling his players on the importance of humility, even bringing in boxing superstar Anthony Joshua to give a pre-match team talk. In a largely ambiguous 3-minute-long speech, AJ told Liverpool players: ‘You’ve just gotta stay humble.’
If Joshua’s talk hadn’t already done the trick, it’s safe to say that Liverpool were well and truly brought back down to earth after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of relegation battlers Fulham.
Chelsea star Thiago Silva has become the first Premier League player to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab.
The NHS is prioritising care workers and the elderly during the early phases of the UK’s vaccine rollout, the Brazil captain falling into the latter category.
Following the jab, Silva was pictured outside Chelsea and Westminster hospital, proudly showing off his I got my Covid-19 vaccine sticker. Speaking to reporters, he asked: ‘Who are you? Where am I?’
At an age when most players would have already retired, Silva continues to defy father time. And while the Brazilian has had a stellar campaign so far, he’ll be hoping that the vaccine provides better protection than some of his defensive colleagues.
Now with Chelsea’s star centre-back safely vaccinated, Covid-19 joins Manchester United, Manchester City, and Leicester on a list of things Thiago Silva won’t be catching this season.
Footballers must ‘change their behaviours’ to adjust to coronavirus rules both on and off the pitch, the Premier League boss has said, meaning no more hugs – whether that be with teammates, spouses or even their own children.
‘Players need to realise that they’re role models, and while they may not be killing each other, a small child could copy a celebration, pass on the virus, and someone else could die as a result, and if that were to happen, the blame would lay squarely at the feet of the players. And as far as I’m concerned, any player who chooses to celebrate a goal is a murderer,’ Richard Masters told Sky Sports.
Players are now being asked to refrain from showing affection until the end of the season, and as of today, any Premier League player seen hugging another individual will face a hefty fine. Additionally, repeat offenders and cases where hugging leads to kissing will be met with lengthy suspensions. ‘We’re not asking for much here,’ added Masters.
Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, welcomed the move, saying: ‘If the players thought Marcus Rashford could just stroll in here and tell us how to do our jobs, embarrassing us in front of the whole country without any repercussions, then they’re sorely mistaken. Now the players will know what it feels like to be blamed.’
The updated measures are expected to prove particularly challenging for England centre-back Harry Maguire, whose hands-on approach to man-marking could fall foul of the new guidelines. However, the new rules aren’t likely to apply to Manchester United players.
Fulham manager Scott Parker is reportedly incensed after the Premier League rescheduled his side’s game with Tottenham Hotspur at short notice, the new date clashing with Parker’s family Zoom quiz.
The manager spent the early part of the week studying European flags, American presidents, and pop hits of the 90s. But now, with just 48 hours to prepare, he’ll need to switch his focus to Jose Mourinho’s high-flying Spurs side and the deadly duo of Heung-min Son and Harry Kane.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Parker said: ‘I am angry because it’s not right. It’s wrong. It’s our turn to host the family Zoom quiz on Wednesday, my wife Carly has been planning it for weeks. Harry, Benji, Paddy, their kids, they’re all gonna be there. My kids too, but without their father. It’s not right.’
The Zoom quiz will now go ahead without the former England international, with sources close to the family stating: ‘Of course, they all wanted Scott on the call, particularly for the sports round, but they simply couldn’t reschedule at such short notice.’
Sheffield United’s upcoming fixtures have been postponed indefinitely following the suspension of amateur sport in the UK.
As of midnight, amateur clubs across the country will be banned from taking part in organised sport. The rest of the Premier League will remain unaffected by the new measures, with the government allowing elite competition to continue. However, despite their top flight status, Sheffield United do not currently meet that criteria, having collected just 2 points from their last 17 games.
The club is expected to appeal but the process is a lengthy one. It’s understood that each player would have to successfully perform 50 kick-ups in front of Grant Huddleston, the Minister for Sport, before any decision could be overturned.
Assuming Chris Wilder’s men fall short in their bid, and with the government unlikely to ease measures before mid-February, Blades’ fans could be waiting until their game against West Ham at the London Stadium (13/02) before seeing their team suit up again.