The Premier League has postponed Sunday’s North London Derby. On Friday, Arsenal requested the match against Tottenham be delayed, and following an emergency Premier League board meeting on Saturday, the league granted the request.
Presumably, Arsenal did not have the requisite number of eligible players — 13 outfield + 1 keeper — available for the match. The Gunners have a lengthy injury list, which when combined with Martin Ødegaard’s COVID case, and four players at AFCON, leaves the club at least one (and possibly two or three) players short of the required total. To recap the players unavailable:
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — AFCON
- Thomas Partey — AFCON
- Nicolas Pépé — AFCON
- Mohamed Elneny — AFCON
- Martin Ødegaard — COVID-19
- Emile Smith Rowe — groin
- Takehiro Tomiyasu — calf
- Sead Kolasinac — hamstring
- Cedric Soares — hip (?) picked up against Liverpool
- Bukayo Saka — knock, picked up against Liverpool
- Calum Chambers — knock, picked up against Liverpool
- Kieran Tierney — knock, picked up against Liverpool
- Granit Xhaka — suspended (unclear how that factors in)
By that list, the Gunners have 9 senior outfield players fit, 2 keepers, and Charlie Patino, whose start against Nottingham Forest makes him an eligible U21. Depending on whether Miguel Azeez’s recall from loan officially went through in time, he would also count. Still, that’s 11 players + 2 keepers. The Athletic reported 12 + 2 keepers. Either way, that leaves the Gunners short of the threshold.
Given the 19 other matches that have already been postponed this season due to COVID, injuries, and other absences, the Premier League had no choice but to postpone Sunday’s match. Of course, there was always the chance they made the wrong decision, out of line with the precedent. But thankfully, they got it right.