Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur was postponed after the Premier League granted Arsenal’s controversial request to postpone the match due to their depleted squad.
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The north London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal on Sunday has been postponed.
The Premier League decided to cancel the grudge match after Arsenal’s controversial request, citing there were not enough team members available to make a squad.
Mikel Arteta’s side faced Liverpool on Thursday night, but Arsenal came out of the Carabao Cup semi-final with worse wear and applied for a delay less than 24 hours later.
The Premier League said in a statement: “At the request of Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League Board of Directors met today and unfortunately agreed to postpone the team’s away match against Tottenham Hotspur, scheduled for 4:30pm on Sunday 16 January.
“With Arsenal having less than the required number of players for the match (13 off-field players and one goalkeeper), the board agreed to the club’s request.
“The decision is a result of a combination of COVID-19, current and recent injuries, and players on international assignments at the Africa Cup of Nations. All clubs can apply for a postponement if COVID-19 injuries are a factor in their request.”
The decision infuriated Spurs, although a precedent for such a decision has been set since December.
And earlier this week, Leicester City’s match at Everton was postponed for a second time, with the Premier League saying the Foxes’ request had been accepted “due to COVID-19 cases, injuries and international players at the Africa Cup of Nations”.
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Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard missed Thursday’s goalless first leg match with Liverpool due to a coronavirus test, while Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiasu were ruled out due to injury.
Defender Cedric Soares was forced to leave early and star player Bukayo Saka was dealt a heavy blow as Granit Xhaka’s red card in the first half compounded their absence woes.
Meanwhile, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all out of service at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Earlier on Friday, Arteta claimed Arsenal’s intention had always been to play, but admitted he was unsure whether the match, which could be crucial in the race to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League, would go ahead.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to say that in complete honesty without evaluating our players,” the Spaniard explained.
“What is very unlikely today, is likely to happen tomorrow. It went the other way for us when we were ready to play a match and it was called off twice because the other team had issues so it can go both ways. But our intention is always to play.”
On the other hand, Tottenham coach Antonio Conte revealed that his team has a large number of injuries of its own, saying: “For us, it is very, very important to recover all the important players more than other teams.
“Yes, it’s life for us to get these players back. As you know very well, we have many, many injuries. Then there is always a Covid situation every day, which you have to check.
“Sometimes you find a surprise. But we are preparing for the match against Arsenal.”
Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has hit Arsenal and a number of other clubs who have requested postponements without the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I honestly believe that all the teams, not only in the Premier League but in the Premier League now should play their matches,” Neville confirmed on Sky Sports.
(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
“[Folarin] Balogun went on loan, [Ainsley] Maitland-Niles was loaned, Xhaka got a red card – it’s not anyone else’s fault.
“We can’t cancel the matches. If it’s because of Covid and the unusual circumstances where there were 10 or 15 players out [it would be acceptable].
“But, now we’re talking about the teams in the last few weeks where there is no doubt that they have been stopping matches whether they think they have the best team or the best team to win the match.”