According to the Guardian’s Nick Ames, Arsenal’s personnel crisis has reached the point where the club are in discussions with the Premier League about postponing Sunday’s clash with Sp*rs.
While the Gunners were able to field a solid starting XI against Liverpool in last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, the bench was threadbare and featured four Academy kids, three of which had yet to make a senior debut.
— Nick Ames (@NickAmes82) January 14, 2022
After the 0-0 draw, Mikel Arteta said he was keen to play the north London derby but warned that further Covid cases and injuries could well change that.
Ahead of yesterday’s game, the situation looked like this:
Martin Odegaard – Covid 19
Cedric Soares – Hip
Emile Smith Rowe – Groin
Sead Kolasinac – Hamstring
Takehiro Tomiyasu – Calf
Mo Elneny – AFCON
Nicolas Pepe – AFCON
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – AFCON
Thomas Partey – AFCON
Additionally, we now have Granit Xhaka suspended for two games (not that this will be taken into consideration when making a postponement decision), and doubts over Cedric and Calum Chambers (both referenced by Arteta last night) and Bukayo Saka, who needed to pop a couple of pills on the sidelines at one point last night.
The Premier League dismissed an Arsenal appeal for the opening day fixture with Brentford to be postponed despite Covid ripping through the camp on the eve of the season.
Since then new rules have been drafted that provides a more formal framework for postponement applications with the Board making their decisions based on six guiding principles.
1) The impact of COVID-19 infections on a club’s squad, as well as injuries, illness and those isolating, and the number of players available on the squad list and any Under-21 players with appropriate experience. Where a club cannot field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper either from its squad list or its appropriately experienced Under-21 players, the match will be postponed.
2) The status of any COVID-19 outbreak within a club, including the number of individuals affected, the sequence and source of infections and their proximity to the match in question.
3) A club’s ability to safely prepare its players in the lead-up to a match.
4) Medical advice as to whether there is any unacceptable risk to the health and safety of players and staff by playing the match.
5) Any advice from UK Health Security Agency and other public bodies.
6) Any other exceptional circumstances.
Given we’re coming up to 48 hours until kick-off, we’re expecting clarity on whether the derby will go ahead sooner rather than later.
While a postponement might benefit Arsenal in the short term, the fact we already have to rearrange games with Wolves (H), Chelsea (A) and Liverpool (H) means we’ll have a hellish backlog to clear at some point.