Tottenham v Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday has been called off after the Gunners’ request for a postponement was accepted by the Premier League.
The decision comes after a request by Mikel Arteta’s side, who had officially requested to the Premier League for a postponement on Friday evening. With Arsenal sat in fifth and Spurs just behind in sixth, the match appears crucial in the race for fourth.
However, the Gunners have up to 12 players missing through injury, suspension and international call-ups.
As such, their request for a postponement has now been met. Indeed, their situation is compounded by Granit Xhaka’s red card at Liverpool which left Arteta less than impressed.
And with just one senior centre midfielder available in Albert Sambi Lokonga, Arteta faced some serious selection issues.
With Martin Odegaard self-isolating after a positive Covid case, Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares also appear doubtful. That’s after the pair picked up knocks in Thursday’s goalless draw at Liverpool.
Indeed, that left Arteta with just 12 available outfield players for the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Premier League rules stipulate teams must fulfil fixtures if they have 14 players – 13 outfields and a goalkeeper – available.
And it was reported on Saturday afternoon by David Ornstein of The Athletic that the game will no longer take place this weekend.
Premier League statement
The Premier League said in a statement: “Following a request from Arsenal FC, the Premier League Board met today and regrettably agreed to postpone the club’s away fixture against Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at 4:30pm on Sunday 16 January.
“With Arsenal having fewer than the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), the Board accepted the club’s application.
“The decision is a result of a combination of COVID-19, existing and recent injuries. They also have players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. All clubs are able to apply for a postponement if COVID-19 infections are a factor in their request.”
Arteta was giving little away when questioned about a possible postponement on Friday.
However, the Arsenal boss did admit to being anxious over the possibility of losing more players.
“I don’t know, it’s difficult to say that with total honesty without assessing our players. But what is today very unlikely, tomorrow is likely to happen,” a tentative Arteta said on Friday.
“It’s gone the other way for us when we were ready to play a match and twice it’s postponed. That’s after the other team had issues – so it can go both ways. But our intention is always to play.”
Gary Neville unhappy at Tottenham v Arsenal postponement
However, with just one Covid case among their party, Gary Neville is far from impressed at Arsenal’s request.
“I honestly believe that all teams, not just in the Premier League but the EFL now must be made to play their fixtures,” Gary Neville said before Brighton’s match against Crystal Palace.
“[Folarin] Balogun’s gone on loan, [Ainsley] Maitland-Niles has gone on loan, [Granit] Xhaka’s got a red card – that’s not the fault of anybody else.
“We can’t be calling fixtures off. If it was purely down to Covid and extraordinary circumstances where there were 10 or 15 players out [it would be acceptable].
“But, we’re now talking about teams in the last few weeks where there’s no doubt they’ve been calling games off whether they think they’ve got the best squad or best team to win a game.”
Meanwhile, in a separate issue, there are concerns over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following a shock health scare.