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CASES CONFIRMED Why the Premier League title race could be thrown into chaos by Man City's Covid-19 outbreak

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Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker were the first two City players to test positive (Martin Rickett/PA)

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker were the first two City players to test positive (Martin Rickett/PA)

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker were the first two City players to test positive (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City's players and staff face an anxious few days as they wait to discover the extent of a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, with Monday night's game against Everton postponed just four hours before kick-off.

Three days after Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus were among four individuals to return positive tests the club announced another round of testing had "returned a number of positive cases".

City lodged a request to postpone the match on Monday morning with confirmation coming around 4pm after a hastily-arranged Premier League board meeting.

"With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond," said a statement from City.

"Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, has decided to postpone the fixture."

The Premier League, in agreeing to the postponement, insisted the health of players and staff was paramount and now the waiting game is on amid what could be the most significant Covid-19 outbreak at a Premier League club since football resumed last July.

While Newcastle are among the clubs that have cancelled games due to multiple Covid-19 cases being confirmed in their camp, this is the first time one of the Premier League's title contenders have suffered in such a manner.

While there must be a hope that City can return to action early in 2021, there must be a real chance that their big away game against Chelsea next Sunday will also be postponed.

That would leave a City side that have already played once game less than league leaders Liverpool with a backlog of fixtures ahead of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester United, currently scheduled for January 6th.

"After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day," read a statement on the City website.

"With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.

"Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.

"All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine. The first team training ground at City Football Academy will close for an indeterminate period, with the squad and associated bubble undergoing testing before any decision is made for training to resume.

"Everyone at the Club wishes all of our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition."

With the Covid outbreak occurring at the busiest time of the year, City could be faced with a huge fixture pile up in 2021 as football now starts to ponder whether it can continue as Covid-19 continue to soar in England.

Another 41,385 positive cases were confirmed on Monday alone, with suggestions that London will be among those facing tougher Covid-19 restrictions as early as next week.

While football has succeeded in keeping games on amid a pandemic that has resulted in the death of 71,109 people in the UK in 2020.

Football in England came to a grinding halt when the first lockdown was confirmed back in March and Premier League clubs will head into the New Year hoping they can avoid history being repeated.

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