Sunday’s north London derby is doubtful to go ahead after a number of fresh availability concerns in the Arsenal squad.
The Gunners are set to make the short journey to take on neighbours Tottenham but have a host of players missing due to Covid, 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 rank. And with Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all away at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Spurs clash could now be rescheduled.
The PA news agency understands plans for an application to the Premier League to have the match called off are being considered, although Arteta insists 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.
Arsenal have now released a statement: pic.twitter.com/toec67HGrS
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) January 14, 2022
“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.
A league statement said: “The Premier League Board accepted Burnley’s application as the club does not have the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), due to Covid-19 cases and injuries.”
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.
Arsenal later confirmed they had made a request to postpone the game.
A statement 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.
“We will provide more information as soon as it’s available.”
It is understood a decision will not be made until Saturday.