On Friday night, Arsenal submitted a request to postpone Sunday’s crunch north London derby sparking fury at Tottenham in the process.
The Gunners had filed an application to have Sunday’s game against Spurs called off due to the unavailability of a large number of players due to Covid, injuries, suspension and international duty.
The Premier League board will convene on Saturday morning to decide whether the match will go ahead as planned.
Rules state that clubs are required to play provided they have 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper who are either part of the senior squad or ‘appropriately experienced Under-21s’.
What will be key at this morning’s meeting is whether top-flight officials take into account the unavailability of Arsenal’s Africa Cup of Nations contingent: Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe.
It’s important to note that Leicester had a request to postpone their game against Everton earlier this month citing players on AFCON duty as one of the reasons.
The news of Arsenal’s request triggered anger at Tottenham, who are concerned their arch-rivals are using the rules to have the game called off because their best players are unavailable.
There is a huge surprise at Tottenham that Arsenal have taken this step, particularly given head coach Mikel Arteta had said earlier in the day that he wanted the game to go ahead.
There is a sense at Spurs that international call-ups, injuries and suspensions are part and part of football.
Arsenal currently have one known Covid case – Martin Odegaard – and Granit Xhaka is suspended following his red card against Liverpool on Thursday.
However, Calum Chambers, Cédric Soares, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka are all injury doubts for the game – an issue that has raised obvious suspicion at Tottenham.
Also, it has not gone unnoticed at Spurs that Arsenal have also let Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogan leave on loan in recent days, while Arsenal’s U23’s, who could conceivably be included in Sunday’s match-day squad, were playing on Friday night.