Tottenham react with FURY to decision to postpone north London derby with Arsenal

Tottenham have reacted with fury to the postponement of Sunday’s north London derby, saying they are ‘extremely surprised’ the Premier League approved Arsenal’s request.

A strongly-worded statement issued on Saturday night accused the Premier League of not applying their own rules consistently when it came to match postponements related to Covid absences.

Spurs pointed out that they were disqualified from the UEFA Europa Conference League when a large number of Covid cases forced them to reschedule their final group fixture.

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Sunday’s north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal has been postponed  

Mikel Arteta’s (second right) Gunners made the request in the absence of several players

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They also criticised the Premier League for not accepting their application to postpone the match with Leicester but then subsequently calling it off when Leicester applied.

Arsenal are without at least a dozen players because of injuries, suspension and international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

But there is only one known positive Covid case in their squad – midfielder Martin Odegaard.

The Spurs statement read: ‘We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved.

‘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 Gunners currently have 11 players sidelined for various reasons and that could grow

‘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 travelled great distances.’

Antonio Conte’s Spurs have been left furious at Arsenal’s efforts to get the game called off

Tottenham’s statement in full  

We regret to announce that Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal has been postponed.

This follows an application from Arsenal to the Premier League on the basis of a combination of COVID, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved.

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 – here – 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 travelled great distances.

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The Premier League announced on Saturday afternoon it had accepted Arsenal’s application to postpone the derby. 

A statement read: ‘Following a request from Arsenal FC, the Premier League Board met today and regrettably agreed to postpone the club’s away fixture against Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at 4:30pm on Sunday 16 January.

‘With Arsenal having fewer than the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), the Board accepted the club’s application. 

‘The League apologises 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 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. Where possible, the League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk.’  

Arsenal also confirmed the news in a statement on their website. 

‘We are disappointed to announce that Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur has been postponed,’ it said.

‘We know how much this match means to our fans around the world, but the Premier League has made the decision to postpone the match, due to many players across our squad currently being unavailable as a result of COVID-19, existing and recent injuries, in addition to players away with their countries at AFCON.’

The rules state that clubs are required to fulfil Premier League fixtures provided they have 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper who are either part of the senior squad or ‘appropriately experienced Under-21s.’

But Mikel Arteta’s squad is so depleted they couldn’t even muster that number of players for one of their biggest games of the season.

Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe are away in Cameroon for the ongoing AFCON competition.

Granit Xhaka is suspended after his red card against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday night.

Martin Odegaard is the one known Covid case at the club but Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka are all injury doubts.

The quantity of injury doubts raised suspicion at Tottenham and it also didn’t go unnoticed that Arsenal let Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun leave on loan in recent days.

Arsenal’s Under-23 side were also in action on Friday night, drawing 1-1 with West Ham, with a potential argument some of those players could have been called into the senior squad by Arteta.

It is the second Premier League fixture to fall by the wayside this weekend after Saturday’s Burnley vs Leicester City game was postponed.

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  • Club statement | Tottenham Hotspur