Gary Neville has urged the Premier League to reject Arsenal’s request to postpone Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham.
Mikel Arteta is missing as many as 12 players due to Covid-19, injuries, suspensions and the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Spaniard is awaiting results of further Covid tests with the Premier League unlikely to make a decision until Saturday.
Manchester United legend Neville has slammed Arsenal’s request, insisting they are in a position to put a team together.
“I honestly believe that all teams, not just in the Premier League but the EFL now must be made to play their fixtures,” Neville said before Brighton’s match against Crystal Palace on Friday.
“[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.”
🚨 We can confirm we've made an application to the Premier League to postpone Sunday’s north London derby.#TOTARS
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 14, 2022
Midfielder Granit Xhaka was given a straight red card in their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg at Liverpool on Thursday and will serve a two-match suspension.
Furthermore, Cedric Soares and Bukayo Saka both suffered knocks during the 0-0 draw.
Arteta praised his side’s resilience as they held kept a clean sheet whilst down to ten men against one of the best teams in England.
“We revel against the situation,” he said. “The players showed great fight, determination, brotherhood. You saw the emotion, we never gave up. Credit to the boys.
“I don’t know if the red card inspired them but it took the fight. You need a certain attitude to play in these games and the boys did that. We played the game we had to play, which is not our game. I have not seen it back, they checked it so probably a red card.
“To plan with the numbers we have, we don’t have any midfielders, becomes really complicated, because whatever we do is not natural.
“The extra motivation to play a derby [at Tottenham on Sunday] brings the energy when you don’t have it. No excuses, we have to play it.”