After Jurgen Klopp pleaded for the Premier League and TV bosses to avoid Wednesday night to Saturday lunchtime turnarounds, Liverpool have been given just that.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Man City, in which Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up a muscle injury, Klopp supported Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s criticism of the fixture schedule.
“Sky, BT, the Premier League – they have to talk,” he insisted.
“The 12.30pm game, that is a killer. If the Tuesday teams [in the Champions League] are in contention for the Saturday 12.30pm [in the Premier League] that is OK. But the Wednesday teams should not be.”
This came after Man United followed up a trip to Istanbul on Wednesday with a Saturday lunchtime clash at Everton, and during this busier-than-ever campaign, the impact of these broadcasting decisions is being felt by the players.
Joe Gomez became the latest Liverpool player to pull up with an injury off the ball – following Fabinho and Alexander-Arnold – on Wednesday, suffering potentially season-ending knee damage while in training with England.
And while Klopp is yet to discuss this major blow, the manager will no doubt have been incensed as the Premier League announced their latest fixture changes on Friday.
Liverpool’s crazy week
- Leicester (H) – Premier League – Sunday, November 22, 7.15pm
- Atalanta (H) – Champions League – Wednesday, November 25, 8pm
- Brighton (A) – Premier League – Saturday, November 28, 12.30pm
With Liverpool hosting Atalanta in the Champions League on November 25, they will then visit Brighton in the league on November 28, that being a 12.30pm kickoff.
A lack of travel for the European tie is a bonus, but the fact remains that a squad that is already stretched due to the shortened length of the season will be given a 62-hour turnaround between full-time and kickoff.
One of the two days between fixtures will be recovery for those who played Atalanta, while the fact the Brighton game is at the AMEX means it is likely that the Reds will fly down on the Friday evening.
Not only that, but Liverpool host Leicester in a 7.15pm kickoff the previous Sunday, shortening the recovery and preparation time further ahead of the visit of Atalanta.
This is exactly the situation that Klopp, Solskjaer and their fellow managers and players have been vocally critical of, and the news was widely criticised by Liverpool supporters:
What? They moved Leicester to Sunday at 7.30pm?
Atalanta is Wednesday at 8pm
Brighton now moved forward to 12.30 on Saturday?
Fucking hell. Klopp is going to be absolutely pissed at this.
— GaGs (@GagsTandon) November 13, 2020
Moving the Brighton game to an early kick off, after Liverpool play on Wednesday night at 8pm, just proves how the PL do not give a fuck about the teams that represent England in Europe.
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) November 13, 2020
Is this even real life!? 4 games in 10 days… Another proof that people "at the top" don't care about players
Atalanta on Wednesday and then lunchtime kick-off vs Brighton – totally unacceptable
2. More money
3. Even more money
4. Players' health
In that order pic.twitter.com/MtCl85OdOc
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) November 14, 2020
Liverpool are playing Sunday 7:15 pm then Wednesday 8pm then again on Saturday at 12:30pm. This is what ole was talking about. 2 days in between each game.
— no juice tweets (@locallfc) November 13, 2020
Liverpool now play Leicester on Sunday night
Atalanta weds night
Brighton Saturday lunchtime
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) November 13, 2020
Literally a game every 3 days. By the end of this it will only be the academy lads that are fit to play.
Players & fans are the last people considered when decisions are being made these days #LFC pic.twitter.com/FxecorphLc
— Jamie Holme (@JamieHolme) November 13, 2020
It is a situation that is unlikely to change, unfortunately, with Klopp himself revealing that he had met with Premier League officials to discuss the fixture congestion and was told they “cannot change it.”
While the top flight certainly need to be held to task, it is ultimately the broadcasters’ decision – that of Sky Sports and BT Sport – and as far as they are concerned, the schedule is money-driven.
Perhaps when, with so many elite players missing, the quality drops a rethink will be forced, but it seems highly unlikely.