The spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has seen the world getting affected badly in the last few days. The fury seems to have also hampered sports all over the world. The English Premier League is no exception. This weekend saw only four of the ten scheduled matches taking place due to this. All the squads have been hit with COVID-19 cases. Several players have fallen victim to this – with the risk of the number of cases going higher in the coming weeks.
Manchester United saw both of their last two Premier League matches getting postponed – first it was their away game against Brentford and then another away game against Brighton & Hove Albion. Their next game is against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park. The match is supposed to take place at the allotted time if the cases don’t increase.
The Omicron dilemma that can force Premier League to come to an unwanted halt
In the meantime, many managers, clubs and fans have come forward demanding a circuit break. Brentford manager Thomas Frank has called for a circuit breaker in which he asked the governing body of Premier League to temporarily suspend all the matches for two weeks after Christmas. This may help the cases to stabilize and decrease.
If a circuit breaker occurs, as per reports, all the teams are bound to go on this hiatus and the league will then restart after a while. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has talked about it recently and called for a break so that all the teams get equal opportunities and chances for the rest of the season.
Amid all these, anything is unlikely to change. Yesterday, Chelsea were told to play their game against Wolverhampton Wanderers despite having seven players out due to COVID and injuries. In fact, EFL chairman Rick Parry has told the media that a halt may not help any party at all as there is still no scientific evidence behind it. So, Premier League is likely to follow the same trend and carry on with slight changes in fixtures.
If that happens, Manchester United’s game against Newcastle is set to take place. Although, this may benefit Ralf Rangnick and his team against Eddie Howe’s Magpies. Most of the Manchester United players will return to action if the COVID cases on the campus don’t increase. This may leave the German boss with some sweet headache over team selection.
First of these is the right-back position where Aaron Wan-Bissaka may struggle to get into the team ahead of the Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot. There is a fight for the left-back position too. An unfit Luke Shaw was sidelined by Alex Telles but in these past few weeks, Shaw has tried hard to get himself back to his full fitness and is certain to give a good fight to the Brazilian.
The biggest highlight, although, will be the return of Raphael Varane. The Frenchman was sidelined with injury for a while now and will be fit by their next game. A big call has to be made by Rangnick in the offensive area on whether to pick Marcus Rashford or bench him. Mason Greenwood is eager for his chance in the starting line-up and Edinson Cavani will also be close to making his return.
All in all, if the circuit breaker does not go through and the COVID cases in the camp does not increase, Rangnick can take full advantage of this situation to break into the top four and cement Manchester United’s place there.