Chelsea may have to wait until 19 January to play again, with COVID-19 outbreaks at Manchester City, Morecambe and Fulham casting their upcoming fixtures into doubt.
The Blues are due to face City in the Premier League on 3 January but it seems increasingly unlikely that game will go ahead after Pep Guardiola’s side called off their clash with Everton at the last minute.
Just hours before kick-off, the club issued a statement confirming that ‘a number’ of positive COVID cases had been found in the latest round of testing, and that the game, due to kick off at 8pm, could not go ahead.
That came after Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus had missed the 2-0 victory over Newcastle due to testing positive.
Should City call off Sunday’s trip to London, Chelsea‘s next scheduled fixture comes against Morecambe in the FA Cup a week later.
The League Two side, however, announced on Monday that their upcoming fixtures with Bolton (29/12) and Bradford (02/01) have been postponed due to an outbreak at the club.
Director Mick Horton said in a club statement: ‘’It is very disappointing that we have had to make this decision but the welfare of our players, staff and opponents remains the number one priority and following detailed conversations with the relevant authorities we have also decided to close our training ground for 10 days as well.
“On behalf of the Club I wish all those affected a swift and speedy recovery.’’
A 10-day isolation period would mean Morecambe can return to training on Thursday 7 January, three days before they are due to travel to Stamford Bridge. But there is no guarantee they will be able to go ahead with the game against a Premier League side with such a short turnaround.
On top of this, recent news that Fulham’s game with Tottenham (via the Athletic) could impact the Blues trip to Craven Cottage on Friday 15 January – due to isolating rules – meaning that Chelsea may have to wait until 19 January to play in the Premier League again; said game would be against Leicester City.
Not that Frank Lampard would be complaining about the break, given how damaging his side’s results have been over the festive period. The Blues have won just one in their last six, losing to Everton, Wolves and Arsenal to dent their Champions League aspirations.
They may be hoping the visit of Morecambe can go ahead, giving them the chance to return to winning ways against lower league opposition, but they will have to wait on an announcement closer to the time.