Sundays The North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal has been postponed by the Premier League.
Arsenal submitted a request for the game to be delayed on Friday and have now had their wishes granted ahead of the critical clash.
Mikel Arteta is understaffed due to COVID-19, injuries, suspensions and the Africa Cup of Nations, with no less than 12 first-team players reportedly unavailable.
Spurs were pushing for the game to continue as the majority of Arsenal’s absentees were unrelated to COVID, but the Premier League have since granted the Gunners’ request.
The match was to have huge ramifications in the race for Champions League football, with Antonio Conte’s Spurs two points behind Arsenal but two games less.
A Premier League statement read: “Following a request from Arsenal FC, the Premier League Board met today and unfortunately agreed to postpone the game away of the club against Tottenham Hotspur, which was due to be played at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday January 16.
“With Arsenal having less than the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), the board have accepted the club’s bid. This decision is the result of a combination of COVID-19, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations All clubs can request a deferral if COVID-19 infections are a factor in their request.”
Arsenal have temporarily lost a number of players to AFCON in the form of Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny.
Arteta reduced his squad further by loaning out Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun during the January transfer window and then lost Granit Xhaka, who was sent off for the second time this season against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
Arsenal had only one first-team senior midfielder available for the derby in the form of Albert Sambi Lokonga and have since had to rely on 18-year-old academy graduate Charlie Patino.
The Gunners were also frustrated when their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool was delayed due to COVID tests which later turned out to be false positives.
Arteta previously commented on the postponement request, insisting things were going both ways.
“It went the other way for us when we were ready to play a game and it was called off twice because the other team had issues, so it can go either way,” he said. -he declares.
“But our intention is always to play.”
The game becomes the 21st Premier League game to be postponed this season.
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