Tottenham have stated that they are "extremely surprised" that the Premier League granted Arsenal's request to postpone Sunday's north London derby, implying that their rivals took advantage of the league's Covid-19 rules.
The Premier League stated on Saturday that Sunday's game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had been suspended due to Arsenal having "fewer than the required number of players available." The league cited "Covid-19, existing and recent injuries, and players on Afcon duty" as reasons for the game's cancellation.
Tottenham issued their own statement a few hours later, imploring the Premier League to provide "clarity and consistency" regarding existing postponement rules following the match's status as the top-20th flight's postponement this season.
“We regret to announce that Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal has been postponed,” Tottenham’s statement read.
“This follows an application from Arsenal to the Premier League on the basis of a combination of Covid, existing and recent injuries, and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved. We ourselves were disqualified from the European Conference League after a significant number of Covid cases meant we needed to reschedule a fixture and our application to move our Leicester fixture was not approved – only for it to be subsequently postponed when Leicester applied.
“The original intention of the guidance – here – was to deal with player availability directly affected by Covid cases, resulting in depleted squads that when taken together with injuries would result in the club being unable to field a team. We do not believe it was the intent to deal with player availability unrelated to Covid. We may now be seeing the unintended consequences of this rule.”
The situation at Arsenal
Mikel Arteta had only 12 outfield first-team players available for the game after several players, including Bukayo Saka and Kierney, sustained knocks and Granit Xhaka was sent off in Thursday's 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield.
Additionally, the Gunners have four players participating in the Africa Cup of Nations – Thomas Partey (Ghana), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), and Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang – while Martin Odegaard tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.