Chelsea vs Liverpool set to add to Premier League fixture disarray

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Sunday’s Chelsea vs Liverpool fixture is looking “incredibly difficult” to stage, as the Premier League remained immersed in negotiations over the weekend schedule on Monday afternoon.

While there is hope that the other two London games – Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City and Brentford vs Arsenal – will be able to go ahead amid preparations for Queen Elizabeth II’s Monday funeral, the scale of policing required for Sunday’s fixture at Stamford Bridge means it may be a case of “wrong place at the wrong time”.

Both Brentford and Spurs are planning as if their matches will proceed, although there are far greater complications to Chelsea hosting Liverpool.

That is one reason the Premier League has not yet been able to confirm its weekend schedule, in contrast to the lower divisions. The major sports met with the DCMS on Monday morning, and the EFL quickly confirmed that its schedule would resume as normal on Tuesday 13 September.

The cancellation of Thursday night’s Europa League match between Arsenal and PSV Eindhoven was meanwhile confirmed by Uefa, and this was also down to policing issues. It is closer to the weekend than the Chelsea vsSalzburg Champions League game, and represents a higher-risk fixture due to the expected number of PSV fans travelling.

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The Independent has been told that options like reversing the home team were broached, but were quickly seen as unfeasible.

In the case of Chelsea against Liverpool, the logistical organisation would be too complicated in such a short space of time and it was a non-starter anyway due to Everton playing at Goodison Park on the same day. Having games behind closed doors is not an option. Manchester United playing at home to Leeds is the other weekend game which will require a high volume of police resources, though is of course taking place outside London.

The fact that the games at Brentford and Spurs do not require anything like the same security means they have a far greater chance of going ahead. Contrary to some feelings that the Metropolitan Police favoured the cancellation of fixtures in London, involved sources insist the body has instead been hugely “helpful” in trying to keep matches on.

The Premier League has been thrown into disarray by their response to the solemn news, and it remains a possibility that some teams will end up going a month without a match.

Many within the competition now feel the decision to postpone the weekend’s matches was all the more hasty, given the possibility for further upheaval with a tight calendar. Connected sources, for example, state that finding an alternative date for Arsenal hosting PSV before the World Cup is going to be “tricky”.

The Independent has been told that the Premier League went back and forth on Friday’s decision four times before ultimately putting it to the board that the weekend’s games should be postponed.

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