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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he will be “very angry” if rival Premier League clubs are using COVID-19 as an excuse to postpone matches.
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Liverpool were successful in postponing their Carabao Cup semifinal, first leg against Arsenal after an outbreak which manager Jurgen Klopp later said contained a host of false positive tests. Arsenal are debating whether to apply for Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur to be rearranged as they struggle to meet the league’s criteria of having 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper available due to a mixture of COVID, injuries, suspensions and players away at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Clubs must have COVID-19 cases in their camp before other factors including injuries and suspensions are taken into consideration but asked if some teams were bending the rules to get games postponed, Tuchel replied: “I strongly, strongly hope that is not the case because otherwise I would be very, very angry.
“We are doing everything to make games happen and we were made to play when we thought we should maybe not. So I can only strongly hope that the rules are the same rules for everybody.”
Chelsea have suffered multiple COVID-19 cases in recent months had a request to call off their trip to Wolves rejected last month. The game ended 0-0 as Tuchel’s side fell behind leaders Manchester City, who they face on Saturday.
Tuchel also said that Andreas Christensen has tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and will miss the game against City, who will be seeking to extend their 10-point lead at the top of the table.
Pushed on whether defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday would end Chelsea’s title hopes, Tuchel said: “Maybe. Who knows? The biggest difference so far in the season as far as I’m concerned is they dealt better with injuries and they dealt better with the COVID situation.
“Maybe it is unlucky, maybe they do it better or whatever but they have less injuries to key players, less days out. They do not suffer from COVID as we did over many weeks. This is the huge difference because we had some draws in the season that were unnecessary and if you have your full squad, you create a certain atmosphere that pushed everybody to the edge.
“You need to be on the edge and at the very highest level if you want to compete with Man City. They are the benchmark. They are the best team in England right now. This is something we have to admit.”