Liverpool’s FA Cup clash at Aston Villa has been thrown into doubt after the hosts closed their training ground due to a “significant” COVID-19 outbreak, leaving a chance at irony Reds could not ignore.
A large number of Aston Villa first-team players and staff returned positive tests and are now in isolation, leaving two potential scenarios to fulfil the third round obligations.
One is to see Villa field a team comprised of their academy players, like Derby will for their trip to Chorley after a similar outbreak, or be called off as Southampton vs. Shrewsbury set the precedence for.
The FA requirements are that a game must go ahead if 14 players are available and registered to take part, while a forfeit is a strong possibility.
It has yet to be decided as to what avenue this game will follow, but Villa have their hands tied behind their backs as their busy schedule provides no spare matchday to rearrange this tie:
Aston Villa do not have a spare ordinary matchday to rearrange their FA Cup tie against Liverpool.
The only blanks they have from now until Feb 13 are the round dates for the FA Cup fourth round and fifth round.
— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) January 7, 2021
And while the hope is that everyone at Villa is safe and healthy as possible and feels no ill effects of coronavirus, a slither of irony emerged for Liverpool at the possibility of facing a side comprised of Villa’s under-23s.
It would arrive less than 13 months after Liverpool were forced to field a team with the average age of 19.5 at Villa Park in the League Cup as the senior team competed in the Club World Cup less than 24 hours later in Qatar.
Villa, of course, emerged as 5-0 victors and the possibility of a role reversal saw sarcasm and irony take centre stage for the Liverpool faithful:
I wonder if there’s an example in a Villa/Liverpool cup tie of one team having to play a heavily depleted line up because of circumstances that were outta their hands https://t.co/UFpeqrXjl4
— John O'Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) January 7, 2021
Liverpool should play Villa's youth team in Qatar.
— Andrew Beasley ? (@BassTunedToRed) January 7, 2021
Hopefully all at Aston Villa recover from the Covid-19 outbreak there. They could play the kids on Friday night, but no way would the authorities insist an Aston Villa v Liverpool cup tie goes ahead when the first-team are unavailable. Oh, wait… #LFC #AVLLIV #FACup
— Chris Mac (@chrismackop) January 7, 2021
I hope everyone is well but this Villa situation is very funny. There's almost too much irony. I can barely concentrate for it all.
Anyway, if the game needs to be the 4th round weekend then there's an….
No, lost my head again with the irony.
— Neil Atkinson (@Knox_Harrington) January 7, 2021
Hopefully all is well, but would be quite fitting to see Neco Williams milking a deflected OG in front of an empty stand against Villa's youngest-ever side…
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) January 7, 2021
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) January 7, 2021
Aston Villa v Liverpool pic.twitter.com/MFnJ4o5tef
— Ross (@rossic89) January 7, 2021
Imagine the fume if we get a bye here.
Not with other club's fans, I mean the manager.
— Phil Blundell (@PhilBlundell) January 7, 2021
— Jack Gill (@jacklfcgill) January 7, 2021
Discussions remain ongoing for how the match is to proceed, or not, as Liverpool continue to prepare as normal until told otherwise.