USA About: Liverpool Publish: 12/20/2021 Edit: 12/20/2021 Author: Gardener
For a weekend with the least amount of football played, it could be the most momentous time of the season. It's certainly hard to believe that it could be decisive in the title race when three likely turned into two and one went clean. Chelsea fell a massive six points behind the leaders because the squad was big enough to take on so many first-team players. Liverpool lacked most of their midfield as well as star defender Virgil van Dijk so he could only draw against Tottenham Hotspur, which they often overwhelmed them. Much of their 2-2 tie involved a lot of debate over whether Spurs' own Covid-Forced hiatus was actually benefiting them. Their team of seemingly interchangeable starters drove past Newcastle United to have a full three points ahead of the lead. Likewise, you can't escape the feeling that luck, how Covid affects every single squad, directly affects the season. That's a pretty annoying idea, because it contradicts the - albeit often misguided - founding idea that every season there is completely balanced competitive conditions, everything on the pitch is clear and the final placements are ultimately deserved. It feels wrong that such a hallowed success as the English title may be decided by blind luck and how something else - anything else - can certainly be done. The Premier League can wait for the perfect situation to settle down, but good luck with that. This is an ongoing pandemic where the omicron variant is devastating our lives, not to mention football. It is probably more than likely that at some point we will not achieve the "perfect" situation. Now football can only adapt, and that is all the more urgent when the game is so lucrative. That may seem blatant, and one element of the double thinker underscores this whole debate. The Premier League sells itself on its competitive strength, but one live argument - and one that is brought up by many at the meetings of the competition - is that the current circumstances are damaging its competitive integrity; that the selling point is negated. The immense wealth of the game comes in part from the glamorous scale of the show, which led Qatar to want a World Cup and that World Cup had to be rescheduled for winter. This leaves very little calendar space, which only adds to the pressure on debates about when to play games. The Premier League is still anticipating the cost of the 2020 initial hiatus. The bottom line is that players may earn a lot less if the show is interrupted or restricted. This was made clear to the teams in all discussions about Project Restart. It undoubtedly involves many compromises, but ultimately most will accept them. There are then exactly the rules for the postponement that the clubs have committed to. It depends on the number of players available, whether a training site was closed when a team requested it, and whether an outbreak was controlled or "uncontrolled". With the latter, a game is most likely to be postponed because there is a risk of contagion for the entire squad as well as the opponent and everyone else involved. All of this is similarly in contrast to health and safety, which is a top priority, and the need to play games where they can be played. That was one of the other ironies of the last game on Sunday at Spurs. The breaker discussed earlier in the week may have resulted in this game being canceled unnecessarily. And of course, Tottenham Hotspur were still recovering from their own breakout while Liverpool missed a core of players. It still produced a classic "great advert" for the Premier League because the game was so good. There is another irony in the fact that it could hurt the title race in the long run as Liverpool were unable to keep up with City at a lesser strength. Of course, waiting for this is not perfect. But waiting for perfect conditions is of course impossible. It's just an adjustment thing that the Premier League has likely done pretty well so far.
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