However, the tie should have been completed last week.
As you will probably all remember, the first leg for the semi-final was postponed at Liverpool’s request citing Covid issues.
Many fans argued their postponement wasn’t genuine and those claims were only intensified when Jurgen Klopp revealed his squad had returned “false positive” COVID-19 test results.
What really happened?
Well, The Athletic have conducted a report into the postponement and it makes for very interesting reading.
Here’s really what happened.
The Athletic has summed up their lengthy report with the following bullet points:
- Liverpool decided to send their players for precautionary PCR tests using a laboratory called BioGrad after a round of negative lateral flow tests
- Liverpool requested the postponement before knowing the results from this additional round of testing
- Liverpool conducted this additional testing because they were fearful of a second outbreak at the club, but it went beyond what was needed to get the tie played
- Positive results were then returned for 13 players
- When these erroneous tests were discounted, neither the club or any of the other authorities in the process highlighted that development publicly
- Klopp’s incorrect terminology triggered the EFL into thinking it might have to open an investigation. However it is clear that Liverpool had no motive to get the game called off
- Some Liverpool players were unhappy and frustrated they were unable to play in two games and were forced into isolation, away from their families, despite not having COVID-19
Essentially, Liverpool returned negative tests and ordered new ones to double-check (even though that wasn’t required). These returned positive results but the tests were faulty. However, the fact the tests were faulty wasn’t made public at first and the match was allowed to be called off when it didn’t need to be.
The story begins following Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away to Chelsea. Remember, Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino as well as Jurgen Klopp missed the trip to Stamford Bridge after testing positive.
After the match, one player who started the match tested positive on a lateral flow. A few more staff members, including stand-in manager Pep Lijnders, also tested positive but the squad was largely covid-free.
The club feared the virus had spread so wanted an additional round of PCR testing with the semi-final against Arsenal just two days away. This wasn’t required but, instead, was done out of caution. This meant using a different company than the PCR tests the Premier League provide.
The results may not have come back until 24 hours before the match when Liverpool were already set to be in London. Therefore, the club decided to request a postponement before the results had been returned. They then voluntarily shut down the training ground.
The results came back and 13 players had tested positive.
However, when Liverpool tested as usual in the coming days, negative results had been returned.
It soon became clear that the independent testing Liverpool had used was a faulty batch. The issue was, Liverpool didn’t make that public immediately and allowed the Arsenal match to be postponed.
Quiz: Can you name this teammate of Steven Gerrard at Liverpool?
After beating Shrewsbury on January 9, Klopp spoke of his players “not eligible” because of “false positives”. However, there weren’t “false positives” but, instead, the results had been completely discounted and the players affected were no longer isolating.
In truth, the whole thing was a mess.
One source, who was sympathetic towards Liverpool, described it as “a mix of a monumental ‘f**k-up’’, a whole dose of bad luck and a mess of a PR strategy.”
That pretty much sums it up.