Arsenal have requested for Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham to be postponed.
The Gunners are set to make the short journey to face their rivals in the Premier League but have a host of players missing due to coronavirus, injury, suspension and the Africa Cup of Nations.
Martin Odegaard missed Thursday’s goalless Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg draw at Liverpool due to Covid while the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu had been ruled out through injury.
Cedric Soares was forced off early at Anfield with Bukayo Saka also taking a knock as Granit Xhaka’s first-half red card further depletes manager Mikel Arteta’s ranks. And with Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all away at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Spurs clash could be rescheduled.
A club statement on Friday read: “We can confirm we have made an application to the Premier League for the postponement of Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
“We have reluctantly taken this step but we have many players currently unavailable across our squad as a result of Covid, injuries and players away with their countries at AFCON.”
The PA news agency understands Tottenham are surprised at Arsenal’s request, believing the clubs to have the same number of coronavirus cases, and that the Premier League is expected to make a decision on Saturday morning.
Arteta earlier insisted he will prepare for the game to take place after fixtures against Wolves and Liverpool were postponed in the past month at the request of the opposition.
“I don’t know, it’s difficult to say that with total honesty without assessing our players,” he said when asked if he would like the game to be off.
“What is today very unlikely, tomorrow is likely to happen. It’s gone the other way for us when we were ready to play a match and it was cancelled twice because the other team had issues so it can go both ways. But our intention is always to play.”
Burnley’s match against Leicester on Saturday has already been postponed, with the Clarets having an insufficient number of players to fulfil the fixture.
The Premier League accepted a request lodged by Burnley, who were already without several players through Covid-19, injuries and Maxwel Cornet’s absence at AFCON prior to the enforced sale of Chris Wood to relegation rivals Newcastle this week.
It is the fourth Burnley match this season to be postponed due to coronavirus, but the first time the request has come from the Turf Moor club.
Burnley saw three consecutive matches – against Watford, Aston Villa and Everton – postponed last month due to Covid-19 cases within the opposition camps, while November’s fixture against Tottenham was called off at short notice due to heavy snow.
That has left Burnley with a number of games in hand on other clubs around them at the foot of the table. Sean Dyche’s side have played 17 league games this season, the fewest of any team in the top flight, and now have four matches to reschedule.
The rearranged match against Watford is due to be played on Tuesday, but must now be in doubt.
The Women’s Super League fixture between Chelsea and Everton has also been postponed, with the Blues confirming: “The decision was agreed between both teams and the FA following a number of positive Covid-19 test results and injuries at Everton.”