Arsenal’s request to postpone Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham has sparked controversy.
And looking back at 2006, Spurs have every right to be angry.
The Gunners could be without 12 first-team players, but it is understood both clubs have the same number of COVID-19 cases: one.
Many feel clubs are starting to exploit the pandemic to get matches postponed when a full-strength squad is unavailable, often for non-COVID-related reasons.
And it was Arsenal who benefited at the expense of Spurs when the Premier League rules on postponement were far more strict.
Not even ten senior players feeling violently sick after food poisoning from a dodgy lasagne could convince the top-flight to postpone Tottenham’s final-day clash with West Ham in 2006, despite Champions League qualification being on the line.
A win over West Ham at Upton Park on the final day of the 2005/06 season would have secured fourth spot for Spurs, but the task was made a whole lot harder…
“We had 10 players feeling sick overnight,” manager Martin Jol after the game. “We asked to postpone the game for 24 hours but we didn’t want to risk sanctions.”
Ex-Spurs captain Michael Dawson, one of several key players forced to play through illness, recalled the incident on talkSPORT back in May.
He said: “Saturday night we went to a hotel in Canary Wharf and WOW, late Saturday night and early hours of Sunday morning I was rough along with five or six other players.
“Back then, it wasn’t like it is now when you’re in a hotel before every single game and it wasn’t even an early kick-off.
“I remember we had our evening meal, I went back to my room and I think at about 10/11 o’clock I’m thinking ‘wow, I feel rough!’ I phoned the wife up to tell her I hadn’t got any sleep and then an hour later I phoned her up again and I’m really, really ill, sick.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to be struggling to play the next day’. I didn’t want to phone the physio or doc but it got to 4 o’clock and I was really ill again so I phoned them. They both came down and I was like, ‘I’m struggling, I don’t know how I’m going to play’.
“I remember saying that I didn’t think I’d be the only person who’d fall ill. I went for a walk in the morning and I felt washed up, drained. I wasn’t the only one, there were five or six of us really struggling.
“The police came round to the hotel. This is a major thing as Champions League was at stake and all of a sudden six or seven of us are going down.
“They said they might delay the game by an hour but I thought I’d need about three days to get over this!”
The clash in east London went ahead as normal and Dawson started but Spurs didn’t get the result they needed as they lost 2-1.
The defeat was made a whole lot worse by the fact Arsenal pipped Spurs to fourth with a win at home to Wigan.
“We turned up and we didn’t perform and I was one of them who had a nightmare of a game,” Dawson added.
“There were players coming in that morning who hadn’t been involved all season – you’d have been better off playing them because we had no energy. I remember Michael Carrick coming off early in the second half and just completely washed out.
“It was devastating. Anyone can lose a game, we may have lost the game, we’ll never know but to not be on a level playing field was tough to take.”