Sportsmail understands Spurs are angry at their arch rivals request, with news of the Gunners’ request coming less than 48 hours before the match is due to be played. A decision on whether the game will go ahead is expected on Saturday.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side have struggled with coronavirus cases, injuries and suspensions going into Sunday’s crucial derby clash, which could be pivotal in the race for the top-four this season.
Arsenal have made a request to postpone Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham
Tottenham are said to be furious at Arsenal’s late request – less than 48 hours before the game
A statement from the Gunners read on Friday night: ‘We have reluctantly taken this step but we have many players currently unavailable across our squad as a result of Covid, injuries and players away with their country at AFCON.’
Before Arsenal played their Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool on Thursday night, midfielder Martin Odegaard was the only known player to be unavailable due to Covid this week.
But the Gunners lost Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny to the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this month, while Emile Smith Rowe, Sead Kolasinac and Takehiro Tomiyasu have been struggling with injuries in recent weeks.
In Thursday’s clash at Liverpool, Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares came off injured while Granit Xhaka picked up a red card to rule him out of Sunday’s crunch derby. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun also left the club on loan in the last seven days.
Mikel Arteta’s (second right) Gunners played Liverpool away in the cup on Thursday night
It means, looking at Thursday night’s team news, the Gunners have only 12 outfield players available with the necessary first-team experience for Sunday’s game, which is less than the 13 required to be able to go ahead with a match under the Premier League’s new Covid-19 guidelines.
However, Mikel Arteta revealed earlier on Friday that Arsenal’s ‘intention is to play’ Sunday’s derby – despite their squad being stretched.
Tottenham themselves have struggled with injuries, with Son Heung-Min and Eric Dier among a host of injury concerns for Antonio Conte’s squad.