Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford postponed amid fresh Covid woe

In pictures: Liverpool v Leicester

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Two of the Premier League’s nine Boxing Day fixtures have been postponed amid the national rise in Coronavirus cases, the Premier League have announced – with Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford being the unfortunate casualties of the festive period.

Requests from Leeds and Watford have seen both of their games postponed with three days to go until the fixtures were due to commence.

Watford’s last two Premier League games against Crystal Palace and Burnley had also been postponed after a breakout at the club was confirmed last Wednesday, with the club continuing to feel the effects of a virus-ravaged squad.

And with Leeds miraculously decided to fulfil their fixture against Arsenal on Saturday despite having just nine senior players – which resulted in a 4-1 loss at home to the Gunners – the decision has now been taken to avoid facing Liverpool as injury and COVID-19 means their squad remains heavily depleted.

“Following postponement requests from Leeds United and Watford as a result of COVID-19, the Premier League Board met this morning and regrettably agreed to call off the two affected clubs’ Boxing Day fixtures,” a statement from the Premier League read.

“The two matches are Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford and Liverpool v Leeds United, both due to be played on Sunday at 12:30 GMT.

“The Board today was able to make its decisions in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their supporters. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those fans’ festive plans.

“The League is aware that the decision to postpone these two matches will disappoint supporters and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games.

“The Board concluded that Leeds United will not be able to fulfil their fixture this weekend due to the number of players with COVID-19, injuries and illness. The club’s training ground has also been closed after consultation with the UK Health Security Agency and the Premier League.

“Watford FC continue to have an insufficient number of players to field a team after their game against Crystal Palace FC last Saturday was postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak. Due to players coming out of isolation, it is fully expected Watford will be available for their fixture on Tuesday 28 December, against West Ham United.

“The Board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and adapted COVID-19 postponement guidance introduced to clubs in light of the new Omicron variant.”

The decision now means that Liverpool’s next game will be the trip to Leicester on December 28, meaning the Reds will have played the Foxes twice in a row after Wednesday’s nail-biting Carabao Cup win was decided on penalties.

Caoimhin Kelleher was the hero of Anfield as his two saves in the shootout gave Liverpool the win from the clutches of defeat.

Having led 3-1 with just 20 minutes remaining, goals from Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino set up a grandstand finish, and Kelleher’s save from Ryan Bertrand in sudden death gave Diogo Jota the chance to send Liverpool to the semi-final, which he did with aplomb.

However, the postponement of the Leeds tie means that Andrew Robertson will remain suspended for the trip to Chelsea on January 2 after he was sent off against Tottenham on Sunday.

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