Common sense has prevailed and Everton's Boxing Day fixture against Burnley has been officially postponed.
Just a day after manager Rafa Benitez had revealed that the club had asked the Premier League to push back the game and been turned down, rumours abound that there have been more COVID positives today at Finch Farm meaning the Blues are now likely behind the threshold of nine for first team outfield players and the goalkeepers for the game to proceed.
Our Premier League fixture at Burnley on Boxing Day has been postponed due to the number of COVID cases and injuries in our squad. pic.twitter.com/KOTVIOhuPz— Everton (@Everton) December 24, 2021
This is the third Boxing Day game to be postponed after Watford’s game with Wolves and Leeds’ trip to Liverpool.
The statement released by the Premier League read -
"Everton were due to travel to Turf Moor to play on Sunday, at 3pm. The Board reviewed the Club’s request today to postpone the match following further injuries to their squad. They concluded that the club will not be able to fulfil their fixture this weekend as a result of an insufficient number of players available to play due to COVD-19 cases and injuries.
"The Board this morning was able to make its decision in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their fans. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those supporters’ festive plans."
As frustrating as it is for the fans this looks to be the sensible decision, especially if there were further positive cases this morning.
Benitez rightly pointed out that among his ‘fit’ players were those carrying knocks and others, like Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who are way short of match fitness, meaning they would be forced to play more minutes than they should.
It is Everton’s second successive match to be postponed because of Covid after last Sunday’s game against Leicester, meaning it will be a full two weeks since their last game at Chelsea when they take on Newcastle on the 30th.
Last week the clubs of the Premier League decided that a pause would not be necessary and to plow ahead with the fixtures as originally planned, but with now thirteen games postponed (and still counting), that appears to be a short-sighted decision.
Clubs usually play three games in a week during this time, and there is a chance now that some clubs will play less than that giving them a bit of an advantage over clubs that do play all three games.
Everton are one of those likely to benefit, with Newcastle scheduled to play Manchester United on the 27th.
There is still no word on when any of the rearranged fixtures will be played, but suffice to say there will be some fixture congestion upcoming in the first months of the year.