Arsenal had requested Sunday’s game be put back
Mikel Arteta’s side hit by injury, Covid-19 and other absences
Sunday’s north London derby has been postponed after the Premier League agreed to a request from Arsenal, whose squad has been severely hit by injuries and a range of other problems, that the match be called off.
Arsenal would have been without more than 14 first-team players for their visit to Spurs and requested the postponement because they felt they would be unable to meet the league’s criteria for fulfilling a fixture. Clubs can make an application if they do not have 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper available and, after Arsenal announced their intention on Friday night, the decision to postpone was confirmed on Saturday afternoon.
It is the 20th in a rash of top-flight postponements in recent weeks that have been spurred by the Coronavirus outbreak. Arsenal’s only known current Covid-19 case is Martin Ødegaard but the league’s rules allow other factors to come into play. When Leicester’s match at Everton, scheduled for 11 January, was called off the Premier League cited “Covid-19 cases, injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations” as the contributing factors.
Arsenal are thought to be missing at least eight players with injury and have four more representing their countries in Cameroon. Granit Xhaka would also have been absent through suspension, but that is understood not to have been relevant to this case.
In a statement, the Premier League said: “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.
Arsenal's fixture against Reading in the Women's Super League on Sunday has been postponed due to Covid-19 cases and injuries in the visiting side's squad, both clubs said on Saturday. "In light of the increased rate of transmissions from the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the FA will review the circumstances surrounding the postponement and continue work with affected clubs," Reading said in a statement. This is the second WSL game to be called off this week after Chelsea had their third game in a row cancelled on Friday when their match with Everton was postponed for the similar reasons. Leaders Arsenal have 25 points from 10 games, nine points ahead of sixth-placed Reading. PA Media
“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 and 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.
“The League apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused to supporters who would have attended or watched the game – we are fully aware that postponements disappoint clubs and fans. The League aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is our priority. Where possible, the League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk.”