Arsenal facing a struggle to fulfil London derby date with Spurs

Club may look for a postponement due to combination of Covid and injury concerns

 Mikel Arteta:  ‘We had concerns already before the match against Liverpool, and after the game we had some more issues,” the Arsenal manager said. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Mikel Arteta: ‘We had concerns already before the match against Liverpool, and after the game we had some more issues,” the Arsenal manager said. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

 

Arsenal and the Premier League are in discussions regarding whether Sunday’s north London derby will go ahead, with Mikel Arteta’s side heavily affected by injuries and Covid-19.

At least 12 players could be unavailable for the match at Tottenham and, with the league’s rules stating a game can be called off if a team are unable to field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper, Arsenal are investigating whether they will be able to request a postponement.

Arsenal went into Thursday night’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool without eight first-teamers, four of whom are away at the Africa Cup of Nations, absent but their concerns have increased since then. Granit Xhaka will be suspended and Cédric Soares and Bukayo Saka picked up knocks at Anfield.

Martin Ødegaard was the only senior player known to be absent with coronavirus and the Premier League’s stance may be determined by the results of Covid-19 testing carried out at the club on Friday.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Arteta did not rule out asking for the game to be postponed and confirmed their injury situation may have worsened.

“We had concerns already before the match against Liverpool, and after the game we had some more issues,” the manager said.

“We haven’t been able to assess the squad yet because we couldn’t fly last night, so we just arrived to the training ground and all the boys are being looked after. So we don’t know,” he said when questioned about the squad’s condition.

Asked whether he thought the derby should now be moved, he said: “I don’t know. It’s difficult to say that with total honesty without assessing our players. 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.”

The match is a critical one for both sides in the push for a Champions League spot. Arsenal and Spurs sit fifth and sixth respectively and there is no doubt the visitors will be significantly weakened if the game goes ahead.

– Guardian

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