By Nick Purewal, PA
Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip were ruled out of Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Chelsea due to suspected positive Covid-19 tests.
The trio missed out for a Reds side who were already without boss Jurgen Klopp after another suspected positive Covid test.
Liverpool confirmed on Saturday that Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders would take charge at Stamford Bridge but were forced into further withdrawals on Sunday in the build-up to kick-off.
Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip have been ruled out of Liverpool’s clash with Chelsea today after returning suspected positive tests for COVID-19.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 2, 2022
While Chelsea elected to omit Romelu Lukaku after recently admitting his unhappiness in west London, Liverpool arrived at Stamford Bridge with a host of their own concerns.
“Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip have been ruled out of Liverpool’s clash with Chelsea today after returning suspected positive tests for COVID-19,” read a Liverpool statement.
“The trio will play no part in the fixture at Stamford Bridge and are now isolating.
“It follows news Jurgen Klopp will not be present at the encounter after also registering a suspected positive test.
“All other members of the Reds’ playing squad have subsequently been tested and received negative results.”
Lukaku has hit two goals in as many games but fell foul of manager Thomas Tuchel this week following an interview released on Thursday but conducted three weeks ago.
Tuchel admitted his frustrations with Lukaku’s comments on Friday, insisting he would seek talks with the star and handle the matter in-house.
Lukaku missed Sunday’s pivotal Premier League clash, however, amid the fallout from telling Sky Sport Italy: “I’m not happy with the situation and that’s only natural.”
The former Inter Milan hitman later told ESPN Brazil after scoring in the 3-1 win at Aston Villa on St Stephens Day that he had told Tuchel he was “multidimensional” in a bid to explain any issues had been smoothed over.
But Tuchel admitted on Friday his frustrations with the timing and content of Lukaku’s interview.
“We don’t like it, of course, because it brings noise that we don’t need and is not helpful,” said Tuchel.
“But on the other side, we don’t want to make more out of it than it actually is.
“You know very well how it is, it’s very easy to take lines out of context, to shorten lines to make headlines, then realise later it’s not so bad or what he meant.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 2, 2022
“But let’s be honest, we don’t like it, because it’s noise we don’t need, we need a calm environment.
“I don’t feel him unhappy; I feel the exact opposite.
“If you asked me yesterday morning, I would say he is absolutely fine.
“If there is something to discuss it’s behind closed doors, for sure.”
Chelsea were without injured England wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell for Liverpool’s west London visit, while Timo Werner also missed out following a bout of Covid-19.
Defender Thiago Silva returned to ease the Blues’ defensive injury issues.