Everton‘s home clash with Manchester City has been postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak in Pep Guardiola’s squad. The visitors confirmed on Christmas Day that Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus had tested positive for the virus and would therefore have 10 days of isolation. Now it appears there have been three more positive tests in the City camp heading into tonight’s clash with Everton, with the identity of those infected unknown.
It has left the Premier League with no other decision but to call off the match to protect the safety of everyone involved.
City were last in action against Newcastle on Boxing Day when they ran out 2-0 winners over the Magpies.
Preparations continued as normal ahead of the clash with Everton and Guardiola was expected to rotate his ranks at Goodison Park in compliance with the quick turnaround.
But just a few hours ahead of their second game in 48 hours, City confirmed the game was off in a statement on their website, which read: “Manchester City FC can confirm that this evening’s Premier League fixture at Everton has been postponed.
“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.
“Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.
“All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine. The first team training ground at City Football Academy will close for an indeterminate period, with the squad and associated bubble undergoing testing before any decision is made for training to resume.
“Everyone at the Club wishes all of our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition.”
The Premier League have since confirmed that the decision was made following a board meeting in which a potential rearrangement was also discussed.
Their statement read: “Manchester City’s fixture at Everton, due to be played at 8pm this evening, has been postponed following a Premier League Board meeting.
“Manchester City lodged a request with the Premier League today to rearrange the match following an increase in positive COVID-19 test results received by the club this morning, on top of the cases reported on Christmas Day.
“This rise has created uncertainty and the Premier League Board received medical advice that the match should be postponed.
“The Board agreed to rearrange the game as a precaution, and further testing will now take place tomorrow.
“The decision has been taken with the health of players and staff the priority.
“The Premier League continues to have full confidence in its protocols and rules, and the way in which all clubs are implementing them.
“The League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Everton in due course.”
Everton were relishing the chance to get back out in front of their own supporters with 2,000 fans having been ready to attend tonight’s postponed clash.
Ancelotti’s side are currently second in the table following the 1-0 win at Sheffield United on Boxing Day.
With the City squad now set to isolate for at least 10 days, all training has been cancelled.
The outbreak is also likely to mean Sunday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea is also off.
City also face Manchester United on January 6 in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Earlier in the season, Tottenham were handed a bye following an outbreak in Leyton Orient’s squad which saw their match with Spurs postponed.
Decisions on each match are expected in the coming days, though United are unlikely to get a bye to the final.