Soccer-Arsenal ask Premier League to postpone London derby at Spurs

(Reuters) -Arsenal have asked the Premier League to postpone Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur because they have a depleted squad due to COVID-19 cases, injuries and some players participating at the Africa Cup of Nations, the club said.

The Premier League said it will make a decision on the matter on Saturday. If the game is postponed, it will be the 21st league match to be called off this season.

“The Premier League Board will meet tomorrow to review the application and inform both clubs and their fans of its decision,” the league statement read.

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka was ruled out of Sunday’s match after picking up a red card in Thursday’s 0-0 draw at Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final first leg, while Cedric Soares, Bukayo Saka and Calum Chambers all sustained injuries.

Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are on international duty in Africa, while Norwegian Martin Odegaard has tested positive for COVID-19.

Speaking to a news conference before the Premier League released its statement, Arteta said his club had concerns over player availability.

Asked if Sunday’s game at Spurs would go ahead, Arteta said: “I don’t know, it’s difficult to say that with total honesty without assessing our players.

“But what is today very unlikely, tomorrow is likely to happen. 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.”

Arsenal are fifth on 35 points after 20 matches, two points above sixth-placed rivals Tottenhams who have two games in hand.

Earlier on Friday, the Premier League postponed Burnley’s game nL1N2TU0T8 at home to Leicester City due to the hosts having a depleted squad.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)