Arsenal have requested that Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium be postponed due to a player shortage.
The Gunners stated that they have “reluctantly taken this step” due to injuries, positive Covid-19 cases, and players away at the Africa Cup of Nations with their countries.
Arsenal’s request will be considered by the Premier League’s executive committee on Saturday.
This season, Covid has forced the postponement of 20 Premier League games.
Earlier on Friday, Burnley announced the postponement of Saturday’s home game against Leicester City due to Covid-19 cases and injuries in the Turf Moor side’s camp.
According to Premier League rules, a club must play a game if they have 13 available outfield players and one available goalkeeper.
Cedric Soares, Bukayo Saka, and Calum Chambers were all injured in Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg draw with Liverpool on Thursday, while Granit Xhaka is suspended following his red card in the first half at Anfield.
Mikel Arteta’s team was already missing Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Nicolas Pepe due to international duty in Africa, while Martin Odegaard missed the Liverpool game due to illness.
Earlier on Friday, Arsenal manager Arteta stated that he was unsure whether Sunday’s match would take place.
“I don’t know, it’s difficult to say that with total honesty without assessing our players,” said the Spaniard when asked whether he wanted the game postponed.
“What is today very unlikely, tomorrow is likely to happen. It’s happened the other way around for us when we were prepared to play a match and it was called off twice due to the other team’s problems, so it can go either way. However, our intention is always to have fun.”
The Premier League has stated that it will evaluate requests to postpone matches due to Covid on a “case-by-case basis.”
The Premier League board makes this determination based on a number of factors, including “a club’s ability to field a team; the status, severity, and potential impact of the club’s Covid-19 outbreak; and the players’ ability to safely prepare for and play the match.”
Former Arsenal defender Matthew Upson told BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday night: “I sympathise with everyone and understand the situation, but this is where it becomes a little bit murky as to what is permissible and what is not.”
“There are a combination of reasons why Arsenal’s squad is so thin, where do you draw the line? That is an extremely reasonable question to pose. It requires genuine clarity. It should be down to Covid, but these other circumstances arise and you must deal with them.”
Gus Poyet, a former Brighton and Sunderland manager, added: “I believe it should be solely for Covid reasons. It is not clear, and that is precisely what we all desire. What is the regulation? The rule should apply only to Covid cases, at which point we will be able to say yes or no.”