Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal Postponed Due to Lack of Available Gunners PlayersJanuary 15, 2022
The Premier League announced Sunday's north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur has been postponed following a request from the Gunners.
Arsenal asked for the postponement because of issues related to COVID-19, injuries and players participating in the Africa Cup of Nations, which left the club without the minimum number of first-team players required to play Sunday's fixture.
"The League apologizes 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 Premier League said Saturday.
Spurs later released a separate statement saying they were "extremely surprised" the Gunners' application was approved by the Premier League Board:
"We ourselves were disqualified from the European Conference League after a significant number of COVID cases meant we needed to reschedule a fixture and our application to move our Leicester fixture was not approved—only for it to be subsequently postponed when Leicester applied.
"The original intention of the guidance ... was to deal with player availability directly affected by COVID cases, resulting in depleted squads that when taken together with injuries would result in the club being unable to field a team.
"We do not believe it was the intent to deal with player availability unrelated to COVID. We may now be seeing the unintended consequences of this rule. It is important to have clarity and consistency on the application of the rule.
"Yet again fans have seen their plans disrupted at unacceptably short notice. We shall once again send food deliveries to the local food banks to avoid unacceptable waste. We are sincerely sorry for our fans—some of whom will have traveled great distances."
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta raised the prospect of a postponement Thursday after the club emerged from a Carabao Cup semifinal first-leg draw against Liverpool with just 12 healthy players.
"But we try to prepare the game thinking we will play," Arteta told reporters. "We came here and we were missing nine or 10 players. We don't know what to expect the next day so we cannot be looking at that."
The Gunners' group of absences include Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe, who are in Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations. Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka is suspended after picking up a red card in the midweek match with Liverpool, Martin Odegaard had a positive COVID-19 test ahead of Thursday's kickoff, and Calum Chambers, Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares face uncertain statuses because of injuries, per ESPN.
Arsenal now has an additional four days to hope at least some players are cleared to return ahead of the Carabao Cup semifinal second leg with the Reds on Thursday.
The Premier League didn't announce a make-up date for the north London derby.
"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," it said. "Where possible, the League will endeavor to keep supporters updated if games become at risk."
Next up for Spurs is a Premier League clash with Leicester City on Wednesday.
Arsenal (35 points) is fifth in the table and Tottenham is sixth (33), with both on the hunt for a return to the Champions League next season. The top four Premier League clubs earn a spot in the UCL, with West Ham United (37) surprisingly holding the final berth at this stage of the term.