Half of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures are now off after four more games were postponed because of Covid-19 outbreaks.
The latest games affected are Southampton v Brentford, Watford v Crystal Palace, West Ham v Norwich and Everton v Leicester.
Earlier on Thursday, Manchester United’s match with Brighton on Saturday was called off, along with Leicester City’s game with Tottenham on Thursday, which is part of the league’s midweek programme.
On Wednesday Brentford boss Thomas Frank called for this weekend’s top-flight fixtures to be postponed to let clubs deal with the outbreaks – but the Premier League is so far resisting that.
“All other fixtures due to be played this weekend are currently scheduled to proceed as planned,” the Premier League said in a statement.
Liverpool players Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk also missed Thursday’s match with Newcastle after suspected positive tests, although manager Jurgen Klopp said the club did not ask for a postponement.
“Honestly, I think at one point we have to make clear what exactly the rules are, but of course with three players out and this squad we wouldn’t have asked to not play a football game,” Klopp told BT Sport.
Klopp – who said all his players are double vaccinated and some have had boosters – said stopping the league “is probably not the right thing”, but called for more flexibility with the schedule.
The criteria for a postponement is if a club with a Covid outbreak has fewer than 14 players available including one goalkeeper – but the Premier League board will consider factors such as whether the training ground is closed; whether players can prepare properly; and whether the outbreak is under control or not, to make case by case decisions.
Thursday’s other match between Chelsea and Everton went ahead despite four of the London side’s players testing positive – Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and the injured Ben Chilwell.