Arsenal have requested the postponement of Sunday’s north London derby clash against rivals Tottenham – who are outraged by the development.
The Gunners are short of players through a combination of COVID-19, injuries, suspension, and call-ups to the Africa Cup of Nations, with 12 first-team players potentially unavailable.
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The Premier League Board has confirmed it will discuss the request at a meeting on Saturday before announcing a decision on the fixture.
An Arsenal statement read: “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.”
Tottenham, though, are pushing for the match to go ahead as planned, talkSPORT understands.
Spurs are furious Arsenal want the game called off despite the fact the majority of their absentees are not COVID related.
The Gunners are particularly short in midfield, with Granit Xhaka’s red card against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Thursday night meaning he can’t play, while Martin Odegaard is out with coronavirus and both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are away at AFCON.
It leaves Arteta with just one senior midfielder available in Albert Sambi Lokonga, with 18-year-old academy star Charlie Patino a possible option.
Earlier on Friday, Arteta said: “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.”
Tottenham also have injury problems of their own and will be without Eric Dier for the clash on Sunday.
The England international has been crucial since Antonio Conte was appointed and will be a big miss, if the game goes ahead, with the defender out with a minor injury.
“He is suffering a little muscular problem and he’s not fit for the game against Arsenal,” the Italian boss said in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“It’s a pity we have to play these three games before the international break and then recover these important players.
“It’s important to recover these important players, it’s life for us, these players.”
One talkSPORT caller’s solution to Arsenal’s problems was to sign ex-Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is currently training with the club.
“He knows the club inside out, he knows the Arsenal way to play,” said Aaron the Gooner, who urged his beloved club to make the shock signing.
“He’s been training with the first team every single day for the last couple of months.
“We are so short in midfield. We’re going to Tottenham at the weekend and who have we got? [Albert Sambi] Lokonga and [Charlie] Patino…”