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Arsenal were supposed to be playing a League Cup tie against Liverpool at the Grove this Thursday evening at 7:45 BST. But in advance of travelling supporters heading South from the land of Scouse the Reds successfully petitioned the Football League to postpone the game due to their combination of Covid (including Jürgen Klopp and his assistant), injuries, and loss of players to the African Cup of Nations. The latter isn’t an excuse the Football League is supposed to listen to, but combined with the Reds’ other issues, and them being Liverpool, it looks like they got a hearing on that basis as well.

Because, unless they suddenly release a list of their new Covid-afflicted players (come on, Jürgen, release the list…or are you…scared?) they should never have been granted their petition. The EFL rules, applicable to most clubs, state there have to be 14 players registered with the League able to play the game, 11 for the pitch and 3 for the bench. Other than that, there should have been no other reason for the Football League to consider postponing the match, except, well, Liverpool.

In their weak, mumbly, run-on, hand-over-mouth statement the EFL said: “Having now fully reviewed the circumstances involved, the League has accepted Liverpool’s request after determining, albeit reluctantly, that a postponement was the only option as the club looks to mitigate against the further risk of infection amongst its squad and staff alongside ensuring public health was protected by not travelling from Liverpool to London.”

What the heck? Parsing that sentence would take a Faustian bargain. It appears that the EFL is helping Liverpool mitigate against future infection rather than considering currently infected playing staff (which is their purview, right?). But no one should believe Liverpool will ever get favorable treatment when they whine, right?

Absent any new knowledge about the players infected (release the list, Jürgen!), let’s forego a full listing of the remaining players from the 40 Liverpool have registered with the EFL/Premier League. Because, really, who wants to be *that* bored? It boils down to having available 29 of those 40, including 2 goalkeepers and at least 12 outfield players that could comprise a minimal squad in accordance with EFL rules. It could have looked like this:


TAA — Van Dijk — Konaté — Robertson

Henderson — Fabinho — Milner

Ox — Jota — Jones

Bench: Adrian, Tsimikas, Gomez, Beck, Morton, Gordon, Minimano

Nevertheless, Liverpool put the Football League under pressure make a decision, and a decision they indeed made. Is this just a transparent ploy from a worried Jürgen Klopp to avoid having to play a resurgent Arsenal with a squad that is depleted, yet not skeletal? Everyone starting above has played in the past few weeks in their games. The entire bench has been on the bench or on the field in their past few games. So what are they afraid of? Why go whimpering to the Football League?

Because: Liverpool.

We are coming off of an outstanding showing against Man City, and would have been able to play in a similar manner against a somewhat depleted (yet still clearly dangerous) Liverpool side. The hassling, harrying defense that we played for the first half against City (indeed, before Gabi was sent off) was a thing of beauty, and we should have similarly been able to boss a Liverpool club that is clearly feeling sorry for themselves.

They’re afraid of facing our squad, one which came within a five-minute period of madness from beating the title holders and current leaders of the Premiership. They’re afraid of losing and not being able to change enough to make the return leg at Anfield something they can get anything out of, other than being bounced out of the Cup. So, even in the absence of Jürgen’s list, they forced the game to be rescheduled as a second leg, for Thursday, 20 January, still at 7:45 Emirates time.

Why? Because. Liverpool.

42 Drinks to “Jürgen Feared the Reaper”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    Excellent stuff Scruz. Rumour has it that Liverpool have also petitioned to have the Anfield 89 game replayed. Jurgen’s a scaredy cat!

  2. 2
    ClockEndRider says:

    Nice work, SG. I look forward to The PL unavailability list being updated to show the covid sufferers. Injuries and AFCON should not even come into it. I fear this has opened the door to less than scrupulous managers/owners cancelling games on a whim in future.

  3. 3
    scruzgooner says:

    further, and by comparison, from ttg’s drink in the last post: https://www.liverpool.com/liverpool-fc-news/features/liverpool-arsenal-efl-cup-postponement-22652738

    i drink, with a sardonic gusto, that author’s tears of righteousness. his cup runneth, endlessly.

  4. 4
    bathgooner says:

    Nice piece, scruz. As you observe, mitigation of further infection in their squad appears to be the primary justification for this decision. One assumes that in view of their new found interest in public health and with a view to consistency, given that up to 1 in 15 of the UK population is currently Covid-positive, the Football League will suspend all away games until this Covid wave comes to an end.

    Spot on, CER.

  5. 5
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellently written scruz! Couldn’t have said this better.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    Jones has Covid and I believe Fabinho is in isolation. Minaimino is injured . I have this from an Anfield season ticket-holder who said among the wider playing and coaching staff they had 14 positive tests yesterday. Several of those on your bench have never played and I understand when they look at eligibility they are more forgiving if it is a team of youngsters. But Liverpool should publish the unavailable .
    EFL also took the view that a large number of Scousers should not be encouraged to travel at this time . I’m less impressed by this argument as they travelled to London on Sunday when the infection rate was probably higher.
    Gooners have jumped on this because they see a big opportunity to get to Wembley . In reverse circumstances we’d have been horrified if we’d been asked to play and frankly I think some of the comments I’ve heard about corruption and likely sanctions against us for Saturday are OTT. Get a grip everyone please .

  7. 7
    Ollie says:

    Good stuff, scruz. Not giving the list of unavailable players is indeed most dodgy. Because for all we know they could put that line-up out. A rather impressive one.

  8. 8
    scruzgooner says:

    if you’re right @6 ttg, shouldn’t their fa cup game sunday with shrewsbury be cancelled as well? or will they have enough back of the original sicknotes back (klopp, alisson, matip, and firmino)?

  9. 9
    Ollie says:

    Thanks for the additional info TTG.
    Still have to remember Villa having to essentially field their youth team against Liverpool a year ago in the Cup.
    The thing is, a can of worms has been opened a while ago, and when you also see the way this is dealt with in different countries (for example Bordeaux were forced to play in the Cup despite 21 positive cases and only eight professional players available last weekend, might not be able to postpone their league match on Friday despite still more cases than Angers who managed to get the postonement of this coming Sunday’s match decided last week already), it’s a completely inconsistent à la carte mess.

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    It’s a good point Ollie about Villa. I think that was due to the intractability of the FA Cup schedule .
    There are key points raised by Scruz.
    It would look very suspicious if they can’t play Shrewsbury . Then I might accept the convenience of a cancellation against the second most in-form team in England .
    We do need to see who is out. Presumably they had to satisfy the EFL with appropriate documentary evidence . The Scouser I spoke to told me yesterday morning about the 14 positives .
    But Juergen Klopp has assembled a side which has a culture of fearing nobody . I hope an upturn in our fortunes has not given us an unrealistic expectation of where we stand

  11. 11
    Countryman100 says:

    Tottenham get battered, everywhere they go!

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    Looks like you have hit the nail on the head with this one, Scruz. Jurgen ought to expect to play by the same rules as everyone else.

    On another front, the BBC Didva brilliant job of reporting on Conte’s post match interview, quoting him thus:

    (Chelsea) “showed to be a really good team, much better than us.”

    And then 3 short paragraphs later,

    “Chelsea showed to be much better than us,” added Conte.

    Maybe he repeated the sentence nonstop to make the reporters go away.

  13. 13
    scruzgooner says:

    if they kept up their questions he might have started saying “look, we get battered…everywhere we go, ok?”

  14. 14
    bt8 says:

    A random question for the monks’ entertainment: How many managers have Spurs sacked since they last won the league?
    Hint: A logarithm may be useful in attaining the correct answer.

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    We accepted a 20k fine for failing to control our players.
    Complete bollocks but I expect no better from the FA.

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    This is the relevant passage from the Carabao Cup’s Rule 5 Non-fulfilment of Fixtures:

    Guidance – Sufficient Number of Players
    The EFL’s general position is that if a Club has enough registered players eligible to participate in the fixture, i.e. they have 14 Players (11 starting and 3 subs) then the Club will have a sufficient number of Players in order to fulfil the fixture. However the EFL will review each circumstance on its own merits.

    This is the rule that makes that guidance not worth the paper it is written on:

    2 Control of the Competition
    2.2 The control of the Competition shall be vested in the Board of the League who shall in all ways act as the Management Committee of the Competition, and who shall have power at any time to alter, delete or add to these Rules in such manner as they in their absolute discretion deem appropriate.

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@14: Conte is the neighbour’s 23rd manager, excluding caretakers, since they last won the league.

    OM@15: £20,000 is the standard fine for that offence for PL clubs.

  18. 18
    bt8 says:

    Re: The Board of the League. This must be the rules committee, who not only interpret the rules but also wrote the rules during their four martini lunches, and who I suspect is pretty interchangeable with EFL in the previous paragraph. Cheeky bastards, aren’t they.

    Ned. Isn’t 23 a prime number, as well as being a large one? Not sure what that means in this context but it must be bad news for you know who.

  19. 19
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@ 17: Only 23? It feels like they had 23 managers since I started following Arsenal in the early days of Arsène. 🙂

    bt8@18: There are infinite prime numbers, as are the ways Conte’s new team can get battered.

    Was looking at the Forest squad, the most recognizable name to me was Cafú, a Portuguese youth international with no connection to the Brazilian legend.
    But they do have a right back with near legendary status … Carl Jenkinson! 🙂

  20. 20
    scruzgooner says:

    sadly, corporal jenks won’t feature (in all probability). he has fallen off hughton’s radar, and can barely get a game with their u-23s. it’s too sad, i always liked him, still remember his unbridled joy when he scored for us (looks it up) against norwich city at the end of the 13-14 campaign.

  21. 21
    Doctor Faustus says:

    scruz@20: Yeah remember that celebration very well. He was living his dream. 🙂 If I remember correctly before that he celebrated another time — against Reading in that crazy 7-5 match — only to realize that Theo’s shot had already gone in before his tap-in on the rebound …
    I no longer remember where (maybe even Arsenal website) but remember seeing photos of his room where every single item is Arsenal memorabilia … 🙂

  22. 22
    scruzgooner says:

    i remember that room photo, faustus. and the celebration of theo’s goal. he was a good lad, living the dream indeed. shame he never got all the way through the ranks.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    TTG says:

    I rarely read Untold Arsenal. Also I don’t pay attention to the ramblings of Piers Corbyn and other conspiracy theorists. To describe PGMO ‘ as the eternal enemy ‘ is hyperbole on a grand scale .
    He makes a good point about the accountability ( or lack of ) of PGMO but that website is full of crackpots . I’m at odds with many on here in that I don’t think refs are corrupt or deliberately favour big teams over others ( there are after all few bigger teams than Arsenal )
    I do think there is unconscious bias and I do think the standard of refereeing is appalling exacerbated as it is by the personality of men like Mike Dean whose ego interferes with their role as arbiters of the peoples’ game . But no way will I become part of a footballing QAnon which imagines cheating around every corner . If this website starts espousing those sort of theories in a concerted way I’m out of here .
    Referees are in a mess because they are poor and because they suffer intense scrutiny which exposes their deficiencies still further . But corrupt they ain’t .
    Tony Atwood ought to realise his real eternal enemy lies at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road

  25. 25
    Countryman100 says:

    Bravo TTG. Bravo. Every word.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    What C100 said @25.

  27. 27
    scruzgooner says:

    ttg, when you’re right, you’re right. *clapping*

    i often felt, over the years, that we didn’t get the benefit of the doubt from particular referees. and that the pgmol’s lack of accountability is appalling. but the latter isn’t about us, in particular.

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, 20k is the standard as you say Ned. I meant more that the seemingly arbitrary way incidents are chosen for censure and punishment is complete bollocks.

  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    The article includes hyperbole, TTG, certainly about the relationship between PGMOL and the supposed monolithic media, and yet also makes some good points about the organization’s unaccountability. I don’t defend it in its entirety but think it’s worth a read, despite its misspelling of ‘public enermy’

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Should’ve have quoted correctly as ‘eternal enermy’

  31. 31
    Doctor Faustus says:

    The Athletic got bought by NYT. Let’s hope I no longer have to pay separate subscription fee and my NYT subscription will include Athletic.
    Ned, I think you predicted something like this a month or so back …

  32. 32
    North Bank Ned says:

    I commend your memory, Dr F. I had indeed mentioned that The Athletic was up for sale. The NYT is paying $550 million for it, so I suspect you will be continuing to pay handsomely for it. The NYT’s strategy is to develop more and more subscription services, although it may bundle your monthly invoice. 🙂

  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    Auba tested positive for Covid on arrival in Cameroon for AFCON.


  34. 34
    OsakaMatt says:

    That’s a pity for Auba, I was hoping he would have a good tournament and come back feeling positive rather than testing positive. I do not know how much bridges have been burned now but the current situation is bad for him and bad for us and a real shame after all the good times of his first couple of seasons.

  35. 35
  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@35: Agreed.

    Also, the Burnley league game has been pushed back a day because of the rescheduled Carabao Cup semi-final second leg.

  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

    Premier league has updated its Covid policy today

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    Policy change meant to cover for the past week’s dodgy pronouncements with the hope that nobody will notice which actually happened first?

  39. 39
    TTG says:

    Soares likely to be off to Atletico on loan

  40. 40
    bathgooner says:

    TTG @39, now, *that* is good news!

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    Our U18s beat the Scum 3-2 today . The very promising Khayon Edwards scored 2. Two of our starters played for the U23s against Brighton last night !
    The most believable transfer news is that we are bidding for a young midfielder ( age 20), Danilo , who plays for Palmeiras who won the Copa Libertadores last time . One presumes Edu has a very good idea of what he can do . Arteta at his presser suggested we are definitely going to sign a midfielder . Danilo fits the current template

  42. 42
    Bathgooner says: