Arsenal-Spurs off over Gunners' absentees

COVID-hit Martin Odegaard was among Arsenal's absentees as their derby with Spurs was called off.
COVID-hit Martin Odegaard was among Arsenal's absentees as their derby with Spurs was called off.

Tottenham have called for "clarity and consistency" from the English Premier League after Arsenal's request to call off the north London derby because of a lack of senior players available was granted.

"We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved," Tottenham said in a strongly-worded statement released a few hours after the announcement of the postponement of Sunday's match.

The decision was reached because Arsenal has fewer than the required number of players - 13 outfield and one goalkeeper - available because of a combination of COVID-19 cases, injuries and players away on international duty at the African Cup of Nations.

However, Arsenal also recently decided to let two players go out on loan and have one player out suspended in Granit Xhaka.

There is only one declared absentee because of the coronavirus - Martin Odegaard - although there might be others from the latest round of testing.

"The original intention of the guidance 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," Tottenham said.

"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."

Saturday's scheduled top-flight match between Burnley and Leicester had already been postponed on Friday due to the Clarets being unable to raise a team.

A second FA Women's Super League fixture has also been called off after Arsenal confirmed the request of opponents Reading to have their match rearranged was granted by the Football Association.

Everton's scheduled WSL game at home to Chelsea this weekend had already been postponed on Friday due to COVID-19 issues in the hosts' camp.

Australian Associated Press