December 17, 2021 at 11:03 AM EST
Hello and welcome to The Athletic’s news blog.
Thursday saw a further four Premier League games set to be played at the weekend postponed following COVID-19 outbreaks. As it stands, Manchester United vs Brighton, Southampton vs Brentford, Watford vs Crystal Palace, West Ham United vs Norwich City and Everton vs Leicester City have all been postponed this weekend.
The Championship has also been affected with five fixtures forced to be rescheduled.
On Thursday evening, Leicester’s game against Tottenham was postponed but Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-1 to close the gap on Manchester City to just one point.
Chelsea drew 1-1 with Everton at Stamford Bridge. Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell didn’t feature for Thomas Tuchel’s side as they have all tested positive for COVID-19. Kai Havertz is awaiting his test results.
Elsewhere, Chelsea crashed out of the Women’s Champions League after they lost 4-0 against five-time finalists Wolfsburg.
We will provide you with all the latest football updates throughout the day.
- The Premier League and COVID-19 – can the football carry on?
- Newcastle hire Nick Hammond as temporary consultant ahead of critical January transfer window
- Chelsea have issues in attack and defence. They need record signing Lukaku fit and firing
(Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 11:03 AM EST
Arsenal looking at loan options for Omar Rekik in January
Arsenal are exploring January loan options for Omar Rekik as they look to aid his development with first-team action.
Rekik, a Tunisia international, turns 20 this month and is in line to make his first-team debut in Arsenal’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Sunderland.
But The Athletic understands the club feel Rekik needs regular first-team exposure and minutes to aid his development.
For more details, click here.
Junior Editor, News
December 17, 2021 at 11:01 AM EST
What’s going wrong for Chelsea?
They drew 1-1 against Everton reserves last night. Simon Johnson is looking towards the sharp end of the pitch for an answer.
December 17, 2021 at 9:36 AM EST
BREAKING: Christian Eriksen’s contract at Inter Milan terminated by mutual consent
Inter Milan have reached an agreement with Christian Eriksen to terminate his contract.
Eriksen has not played since collapsing after suffering cardiac arrest during a game for Denmark at Euro 2020. He has since been fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
Players are not allowed to play in Serie A with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
Inter have now released a statement, confirming Eriksen’s exit: “FC Internazionale Milano can confirm that an agreement has been reached to terminate Christian Eriksen’s contract by mutual consent.
“The club and the entire Nerazzurri family wish Christian all the very best for his future.
“Although Inter and Christian are now parting ways, the bond shall never be broken. The good times, the goals, the victories, those Scudetto celebrations with fans outside San Siro – all this will remain forever in Nerazzurri history.”
(Photo: Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 9:31 AM EST
Just hoof it!
I sang this to the tune of Michael Jackson. Speaking of the 80s, The Athletic sent writers to investigate a very different era of goalkeeping to the raking long passers of today’s Premier League. This is what they returned with.
December 17, 2021 at 9:12 AM EST
19 EFL games off this weekend
Remarkable to see how they’ll get these rescheduled.
Of the 34 EFL games scheduled for tomorrow, 19 now called off due to Covid. Pools panel will be busy.
— Philip Buckingham (@PJBuckingham) December 17, 2021
December 17, 2021 at 9:11 AM EST
Trent Alexander-Arnold can hit a football very hard
But not hard enough to dissuade Mike Dean from crossing its path, it seems.
James Pearce saw TAA as the star man at Anfield last night.
Trent AA has already equalled his tally of PL goals and assists for last season. He’s only 23 but on the brink of 200 #LFC appearances. He’s a future captain.
2021 hasn’t been a vintage year for him but he will enter 2022 back to his dazzling best. https://t.co/rnYvZhWwx9
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) December 17, 2021
December 17, 2021 at 8:14 AM EST
ICYMI: Chelsea knocked out of Champions League by Wolfsburg
It was an ugly 4-0 defeat for Chelsea last night, and Charlotte Harpur has the full story.
Emma Hayes blamed the defeat on anxiety surrounding COVID-19, saying: “The stress, the anxiety, the worry of having to perform in a game when you’re thinking, ‘I just want to go home. I haven’t seen my family’. I’m not making excuses for the players. We do not get paid millions of pounds – I want my players to go and see their families. Unfortunately, we couldn’t separate that anxiety from the performance.
“I didn’t recognise my players tonight. I’ve never seen a performance like that from them. Stress and anxiety is real and while I wish they could have separated it to perform, we were nowhere near it to be in a position to win.”
(Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 7:41 AM EST
Hope for Everton?
And on the topic of Everton…
Jarrad Branthwaite signed a new deal earlier this week and then scored his first Premier League goal to earn a point at Chelsea.
He was part of a youthful core that stood tall at Stamford Bridge and gives hope for a brighter future.
Paddy Boyland was our Everton man at Stamford Bridge last night (and was also close to making the bench!)
New deal and first Premier League goal for Branthwaite: a night Everton’s young core stood tall
December 17, 2021 at 7:19 AM EST
BREAKING: Everton reach agreement in principle to sign Dynamo Kyiv’s Vitaliy Mykolenko for €20m
Everton have reached an agreement in principle to sign Dynamo Kyiv’s Vitaliy Mykolenko for €20 million.
Mykolenko, 22, flew into Liverpool this morning. The deal would go through on January 1, when the window reopens.
Everton are short on options at left-back. The move for Mykolenko comes after a disagreement between usual first choice Lucas Digne and Rafa Benitez which saw the former miss games against Arsenal and Crystal Palace.
Digne also missed the 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Wednesday.
More from David Ornstein and Greg O’Keeffe here.
(Photo: Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 7:02 AM EST
Pep Guardiola posts inconclusive COVID-19 test
Pep Guardiola has posted an inconclusive COVID-19 test and will miss Manchester City’s pre-match press conference as a result.
City are due to face Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday and Guardiola was due to face the media on Friday to preview that game. However, his latest COVID-19 test has come back with an inconclusive result.
He is now awaiting the result of another test.
Sam Lee has more.
(Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 6:29 AM EST
ICYMI: Ipswich appoint McKenna
He’s been one of the most important figures at Manchester United in recent years – but Kieran McKenna, who ran day-to-day training at Carrington, has now left for the Ipswich Town job.
December 17, 2021 at 6:13 AM EST
England Women confirm opponents and dates for new Arnold Clark Cup invitational tournament
I must say that I thought Arnold Clark was going to be an early supporter of the women’s game, rather than a car retailer, and was slightly disappointed.
News of the competition was first revealed earlier in the autumn, with Germany and Spain announced as the first participants, alongside England. The involvement of Olympic champions Canada was revealed today.
The games will be staged over the course of a week, consisting of three double-header rounds in round-robin format.
These games will also act as preparation for Euro 2022 next summer, which England are set to host.
The matches are:
Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough on Thursday 17 February
Germany vs Spain at 2.30pm
England vs Canada at 7.30pm
Carrow Road in Norwich on Sunday 20 February
England vs Spain at 3.15pm
Canada vs Germany at 8.15pm
Molineux in Wolverhampton on Wednesday 23 February
Spain vs Canada at 2.30pm
England vs Germany at 7.30pm
December 17, 2021 at 5:49 AM EST
NEWS: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not available for Leeds game – Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is “not available for selection” against Leeds on Saturday.
The striker, 32, did not feature in the club’s last two games against West Ham or Southampton. Arteta has said that a “leadership group” which includes Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka will replace him as captain.
Asked about Aubameyang’s possible involvement against Leeds, Arteta said: “For this game, he is not available for selection”.
Full story here.
(Photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 5:26 AM EST
Everton condemn homophobic chanting
Everton have condemned homophobic chanting aimed at a Chelsea player during last night’s game between the clubs at Stamford Bridge.
The club’s LGBT+ supporters group, Rainbow Toffees, first identified the chants on Twitter. They tweeted: “We’ve been informed of the ‘Chelsea Rent Boy’ chants. This is something we totally condemn. It’s wrong, it’s homophobic & needs to stop. We have brought this up with the club in the past & will be bringing it up again.”
In response to that tweet, Everton said: “Everton condemns the homophobic chanting directed at a Chelsea player this evening at Stamford Bridge.
“Such behaviour is unacceptable and does not represent the values of our club or our wider fanbase.
“Through our ‘All Together Now’ campaign we promote and celebrate the diversity and inclusivity within our club, our game and our community. We expect fans to reflect those values by refraining from any discriminatory chanting in the future.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
December 17, 2021 at 5:00 AM EST
The Premier League and COVID-19. Can football carry on?
“What we can say with 100 per cent certainty is that nobody who writes the cheques at a football club or league wants to suspend play again after the game spent three months on ice from March last year. Club doctors are perfectly within their rights to call for that on medical grounds; nobody can criticise managers, who are only ever five bad results from the sack, for not wanting to play games that count in the standings while shorthanded; and who are we to tell footballers that they must keep risking infection at work, while we stay at home with our loved ones, eat too much chocolate and watch box sets?”
By Matt Slater, Oli Kay, and Jay Harris.
The Premier League and COVID-19 – can the football carry on?
December 17, 2021 at 4:44 AM EST
And welcome to today’s live blog of football news. My fingers have barely recovered from tapping out news of all those postponements yesterday!
They’re also crossed that no more will follow today. Stay tuned for all the updates.