The North London derby is the 21st game to be canceled in the Premier League this season, after several clubs in their camps suffered from COVID-19 outbreaks.
Arsenal had requested a postponement of the game against Spurs on Friday, citing a depleted roster due to COVID-19 cases, injuries and some players taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
“Following a request from Arsenal FC, the Premier League board met today and sadly agreed to postpone the club’s away game against Tottenham Hotspur, to be played on Sunday, January 16 at 4.30pm GMT,” it said. in a statement from the Premier League. . “As Arsenal have fewer than the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), the board accepted the club’s request.
“The decision is the result of a combination of COVID-19, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. All clubs can request a postponement if COVID-19 infections play a role in their request. League apologize for the inconvenience and disruption caused to supporters who would have attended or watched the match – we are well aware that the postponement will disappoint clubs and fans.
“The League wants 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 make an effort to keep supporters informed if games are compromised.
“The Premier League’s deferral rules are designed to protect the well-being of players and staff, while preserving the sporting integrity of the league. Club requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis based on existing rules and updated guidelines for COVID-19 deferrals ., implemented in light of the Omicron variant.
“The board is examining a number of factors, including a club’s ability to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of COVID-19; and the players’ ability to safely prepare for the game. all applications are examined by the League’s specialist staff before the board makes a decision.”
Included in Arsenal’s absence are midfielder Martin Odegaard, which is absent due to COVID-19, and Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who participate in the Africa Cup of Nations. Granit Xhaka was already banned from Sunday’s game after picking up a red card in the Liverpool match while Cedric Soares, Bukayo Saka and Calum Rooms all injuries.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had stated: delay was a “possibility” on Thursday after being left with just 12 fit outfielders following further COVID-19 and injury issues in the wake of their 0-0 draw in return for Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Anfield.
On Friday, Arteta added that he was unable to assess the squad’s match availability after being unable to fly back from Liverpool, with the league saying the decision would be made on Saturday.
Premier League rules require teams to play their matches if they have 14 players – 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper – available to play, although some clubs have been unable to postpone matches in recent weeks as their absence is largely due to was due to injuries rather than COVID.
Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League, while Spurs are just two points behind their local rivals with two games in hand.