Soccer-Arteta says Spurs clash could be postponed over Arsenal absences

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Carabao Cup - Semi-Final - First Leg - Liverpool v Arsenal - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - January 13, 2022 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the match REUTERS/Craig Brough

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said Sunday's North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur could be postponed as he may not have enough players available for the Premier League clash due to illness and injuries.

Granit Xhaka was ruled out of the match after picking up a red card in Thursday's 0-0 draw with Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final first leg while Cedric Soares, Bukayo Saka and Calum Chambers all sustained injuries.

Arsenal were without Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, and Nicolas Pepe who are on international duty in Africa. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also at the Africa Cup of Nations but has COVID-19 while Martin Odegaard is out with the illness.

Asked whether Sunday's game could be postponed, Arteta told reporters: "I don't know, it's a possibility.

"In every game, from our side, from the opponents' side, because of the amount of issues everyone is having and because it is happening every week.

"We try to prepare games thinking we are going to play. If something happens along the way, it is what it is."

The Premier League only grants a postponement if a club has fewer than 14 players -- 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper -- available, with the board examining requests on a case-by-case basis.

As many as 19 league matches have been postponed so far this season due to COVID-19 cases in a number of teams.

Arsenal are fifth in the league with 35 points from 20 matches while Tottenham are two points behind in sixth.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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