Liverpool braced for hectic end to the year as December fixtures are confirmed
The Premier League has confirmed their fixture list for December, with Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp unlikely to be pleased with his team's schedule.
Liverpool are facing a tough December schedule after the competition's broadcast times and dates for next month were revealed. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a congested fixture list for 2020-21, with recent international breaks and European matches having caused further backlog for teams and players.
Prior to the international break, Reds boss Jürgen Klopp and his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola called for the Premier League to reintroduce the five substitutes rule, which was brought in for Project Restart but then subsequently discontinued ahead of the new season. However, with just nine league games played and injuries already piling up, the calls for players' welfare to be better protected have grown. Yet the list of festive fixtures, which was announced on Thursday, will do little to appease clubs or their staff.
Following Liverpool's Champions League defeat to Atalanta on Wednesday, Klopp bemoaned the scheduling once again, telling BT Sport: "I'm afraid to say I think it could happen not only to us but to other teams as well. You ask us to go on Saturday at 12:30, which is nearly a crime to be honest. That's nothing to do with our game tonight. Now my only interest is I got thumbs up, nobody is injured. Now let's recover immediately. The boys are disappointed and frustrated but we don't have time for it, to be honest. It's just get fresh legs as quick as possible and go again."
As well as two Champions League games, Liverpool play six Premier League fixtures over the course of next month. Three of those matches take place in the space of six days, with the Reds playing Fulham at 16:30 GMT on 13 December, before hosting Tottenham on 16 December at 20:00, and a trip to Crystal Palace at 12:30 on 19 December.
Unlike Liverpool, Manchester United have to fit in an EFL Carabao Cup quarter-final tie with Everton on 23 December between matches against Leeds United and a Boxing Day clash with Leicester City, which will take place at 12:30.
Everton are in a similarly tough situation for that quarter-final meeting, with Carlo Ancelotti's side taking on Arsenal four days prior, before two games in the space of 48 hours against Sheffield United and Manchester City. Guardiola's team also have a 48-hour turnaround between the 26th and 28th, with an EFL Carabao Cup visit to Arsenal on the 22nd.
Arsenal and Tottenham have schedules that avoid two games in the space of as many days, though Chelsea are not so fortunate, with the Blues taking on the Gunners on Boxing Day and Aston Villa a couple of days later on 28 December.
One boost for clubs is that a limited number of fans will be allowed back into grounds following an announcement of a new tiered structure of lockdown measures announced by the British government on Thursday. Teams with home grounds in Tier Two areas will be free to welcome up to 2,000 spectators back into their stadiums, with West Ham's clash with United on 5 December likely to be the first Premier League fixture since March to be played in front of fans.
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