Liverpool’s table-topping clash with Manchester United in January will be played behind closed doors at Anfield after the UK government moved the Liverpool region into Tier 3 in the national coronavirus restrictions.
The change in Liverpool’s status — the city had previously been in Tier 2, but moved up due to an escalation in COVID-19 infections across the country — means that all Premier League fixtures will now be played without supporters present until further notice due to none of the 20 top-flight clubs being based in Tier 2 areas, which allowed for 2,000 fans to attend sporting fixtures.
Liverpool and Everton had been the only teams able to stage Premier League fixtures in front of fans since London and large swathes of the south of England were moved into Tier 4 earlier this month.
Everton’s encounter with West Ham at Goodison Park on Jan. 1 will now be played behind closed doors, but the change in Liverpool’s status means that the much-anticipated clash between Jurgen Klopp’s team and traditional rivals United on Jan. 17 will also be contested in front of empty stands.
United’s 1-0 win against Wolves at Old Trafford on Tuesday moved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team into second place in the Premier League table — two points behind Liverpool prior to the champions’ trip to Newcastle on Wednesday.
Twenty-time champions United will travel to Anfield having gone unbeaten away from home in the Premier League since losing 2-0 at Liverpool on Jan. 19 this year.
But barring a significant drop in the COVID-19 infection rate between now and Jan. 13, when the tiers will be reviewed, the biggest game of the Premier League season so far will be played behind closed doors.