Chelsea have had a request to postpone their game against Wolves on Sunday rejected by the Premier League.
The application was made on Saturday evening and turned down on Sunday morning ahead of the 0-0 draw at Molineux.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel told Sky Sports pre-match the club has seven positive Covid-19 cases and fears there will be more in the coming days.
“It does not matter if we can understand it [the Premier League rejecting the application] because we cannot,” he said. “It is very hard for us. We are very concerned about the health of the players.
“Every day new positive tests are coming in. How will this stop if we sit three hours in a bus? How will it stop if we do meetings together and if we just pretend it is not happening? It will not stop.
“We are disappointed, a bit angry, but this does not make us less competitive.”
Chelsea named six substitutes, including two goalkeepers, instead of the usual seven, while Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kai Havertz and the injured Andreas Christensen were all absent from the matchday squad against Wolves.
Tuchel said the inclusion of N’Golo Kante in midfield was “a huge risk” following the France international’s injury absence in recent weeks.
Jorginho tested positive only to test negative later, but was withdrawn in any case with the Blues refusing to take any risks.
Havertz and Loftus-Cheek returned positive tests on Saturday, with Christensen also out of the squad.
Chelsea were reluctant to include any U23 players on the bench, with the youth side training in a separate bubble – and also having had their last scheduled fixture called off.
Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and the injured Ben Chilwell tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the Blues’ 1-1 home league draw against Everton on Thursday.
A Chelsea spokesman said: “We are deeply disappointed that our application was rejected as we felt we had a strong case for the postponement of today’s match on the grounds of players’ health and safety.”
Six of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures have been postponed due to Covid-19 outbreaks within clubs.
The Premier League has said it “assesses applications on a case-by-case basis” and decisions are “based on existing rules and Covid-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs”.
Arsenal’s 4-1 victory at injury-hit Leeds was the only game to take place on Saturday after Aston Villa’s home game against Burnley was called off just over two hours before kick-off due to increased positive cases within the hosts’ squad.
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In total, outbreaks at various clubs have forced the postponement of 10 Premier League games so far.
However, the Premier League has so far resisted calls for a halt to the competition, with talks scheduled to take place between clubs and team managers from Monday.
Chelsea are due to visit Brentford in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, before a scheduled trip to face Aston Villa on Boxing Day, live on Sky Sports.
What are the Premier League rules around postponements?
The 2021/22 Premier League handbook includes Covid protocols, and states the Premier League board will “only permit the rearrangement or postponement of a league match in exceptional circumstances”.
The board make calls on a case-by-case basis, and by way of guidance the Premier League says permission for a postponement will not be granted if a club have 14 or more players from their squad list available.
In a statement, the Premier League added it would “assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.
“The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club may come into contact with.”
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