With Martin Odegaard testing positive for Covid and injuries to Emile Smith Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Sead Kolasinac. And doubts over Bukayo Saka, Kieran Tierney, Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares. And Xhaka banned and Pepe, Aubameyang, Elneny and Partey at Afcon Arsenal’s application to postpone the Tottenham game has been granted.
It has brought flak from pundits such as Neville and Collymore, who point to the fact Arsenal loaned Maitland Niles and Balogun recently. But Liverpool had their Carabao Cup game postponed with just one positive Covid case.
The Premier League statement reads: “Following a request from Arsenal FC, the Premier League Board met today and regrettably agreed to postpone the club’s away fixture against Tottenham Hotspur due to be played at 4:30pm on Sunday 16 January.
“With Arsenal having fewer than the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), the Board accepted the club’s application.
“The decision is a result of a combination of COVID-19, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“All clubs are able to apply for a postponement if COVID-19 infections are a factor in their request.
“The League apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused to supporters who would have attended or watched the game – we are fully aware that postponements disappoint clubs and fans.
“The League aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is our priority. Where possible, the League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk.
“The Premier League’s postponement rules are designed to protect the wellbeing of players and staff, while maintaining the sporting integrity of the competition.
“Club requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and adapted COVID-19 postponement guidance, implemented in light of the Omicron variant.
“The Board examines a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of COVID-19; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.
“The detail within all applications is scrutinised by the League’s specialist staff before the Board makes its decision.”
Spurs said in a statement: “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 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. It is important to have clarity and consistency on the application of the rule.
“Yet again fans have seen their plans disrupted at unacceptably short notice.”
Reports in Italy say the Dusan Vlahovic transfer is on the turn, with Fiorentina moving more towards accepting Arsenal’s formal offer of £58.4m – and the player warming more towards joining.
Fiorentina wanted the Serbian striker to sign a contract extension but his reps wanted a £6.6m signing on fee and 10% of any future transfer. Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso is said to be exasperated, hit out at perceived disloyalty and ready to let Vlahovic go. Although he may want the bid upped to £63m.
La Repubblica says that Vlahovic was initially happy to leave at the end of the season, but with Fiorentina’s disappointment and Arsenal’s insistence, it may result in him going to London.
But many a slip between cup and lip – particularly when it comes to transfers. And history repeats itself – so if Arsenal do pull it off – watch out two or three years down the line. The odds are shortening at 5/4.
If the Vlahovic deal doesn’t come off, Arsenal need striker back-up anyway with all the uncertainty and are reported to have made contact with Diego Costa and his reps. The Barzilian Spaniard is available on a free transfer after terminating his contract with Atletico Mineiro.
Cadiz have put in an offer and Sao Paulo and Corinthians are interested.
Be strange to see Diego Costa in an Arsenal shirt. But there must be concerns over his speed and fitness with his injury record and being thirty-three. But he will keep VAR officials busy with disputed fouls in the penalty area.
An interesting article in the Guardian by Jonathan Liew saying Arteta wasn’t convinced about Arsenal going for Barcelona back Emerson Royal lat summer with doubts about his ability to adapt to the Premier League. The technical department gave the green light. But Arteta put his foot down and plumped for Tomiyasu. The rest is recent history. The remainder of the article highlights Arsenal thinking about the long term with their transfers, contrasting with Tottenham’s more short-term vision.