Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says his club has “never, ever questioned” when matches have been called off after criticising the reaction to the postponement of their north London derby with Tottenham.
It is understood they had just one Covid case but took advantage of Premier League rules put in place on the number of minimum available players needed for a match to take place, with squad members out because of injury, suspension and international duty.
Spurs said they were “extremely surprised” by the decision, while boss Antonio Conte went further when he said: “If the Premier League decides to postpone games for injury, it means that maybe they have to try to make a best schedule and to reduce many to play games. This the first time in my life that there is a league that has postponed the game for injuries. It is very strange and surprising.”
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But Arteta has come out fighting following criticism that they may have been gaming the system.
"We didn't have the players necessary to put a squad out to compete in a Premier League match, that is 100 per cent guaranteed," Arteta said.
This is a no-win situation. When we played the first three games of the season when other games were off, we were killed and called naive, and told when you have that many players out - don’t play with your kids. Now we postpone a match for all the right reasons - believe me - and we get these reactions?
“I am telling you what we’ve done, when a team has come to us and said we cannot play and these are the reasons why we cannot play and the game has been postponed, we have never, ever publicly questioned any of that and we will not.
“That’s why we have the Premier League and the other regulators, to consider and find out and do their due diligence to postpone a match, to try and maintain the fairness of the competition.
"We have been very consistent. We played (Nottingham) Forest when we had 10 players out.
"It got to a point where we could not put a squad out, that is why we didn't play. As simple as that."
- Conte hits out at Premier League after 'very strange' Arsenal postponement
- Tottenham vs Arsenal postponed
Arsenal are due to face Liverpool in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final (0-0) tomorrow night, and although Arteta hopes the match will go ahead, he was reluctant to discuss team news.
“I don’t want to because I don’t want to give anything away. There are issues, there are issues that have not been resolved, that’s why we could not play the last game.
“I hope that there is no more news and the game can be played.”
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