Arsenal ask for postponment, but will the club get equal treatment?

By Tony Attwood


Today is the anniversary of the first north London derby.  What impact did it have on football?


Following Liverpool’s request for a match postponement for a group of players who seemingly tested positive one day and negative the next (the chances of which are so unlikely it is hard to find a serious statistician who will actually give the odds – although I’ve had a bash, see below) Arsenal have requested that tomorrow’s game against Tottenham should be postponed.

Of course Arsenal are at a disadvantage in this because although most of the media that cover football have made no comment about the unprecedented Liverpool covid test results, a few are picking up on the story.  Given that large numbers of footballing decisions are based not on the rules but how the matter will play out in terms of journalistic coverage, the League’s decision is uncertain.

The Premier League board is meeting this morning before making a final decision on the game.

Elsewhere the Gabonese Football Federation have said that the medics at the Africa Cup have discovered what appears to be a heart issue after contracting Covid with Aubameyang.  If that proves to be so, that could be the end of his playing career.

But back to the homeland… As you will recall Arsenal had four under-23 players on the bench for the last Liverpudlian game, and then had Cedric Soares come off injured on 11 minutes, while reports in the media suggest that Bukayo Saka, Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney were also injured in the course of the match.

Martin Odegaard has had a positive test while Takehiro Tomiyasu, Sead Kolasinac and Emile Smith Rowe are also injured.

If the League abides by its own rules the game has to be played for, as with the EFL rules if a club has 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper from the 25 man squad, plus what are now being called “appropriately experienced under-21 players” they have to play.  However the Sun argues that because Patino was selected against Forest he is now an appropriately experienced player and so the game has to go ahead.

Of course one of the problems is self-inflicted in that Arsenal have allowed Ainsley Maitland-Niles to go on loan to Roma and Folarin Balogun to go to Middlesbrough.  The League, seemingly never a particular friend to Arsenal, will consider that if Arsenal were willing to let those players go, that is their own fault.

When he was asked about the situation Mr Arteta said rather enigmatically, “What is today very unlikely, tomorrow is likely to happen. It’s gone the other way for us when we were ready to play a match and it was cancelled twice because the other team had issues so it can go both ways. But our intention is always to play.”

Although Untold has had a load of abuse seemingly from Liverpool supporters (although one can never be sure these days) over our consideration of the Liverpool situation, and the fact that false positives are incredibly rare, others have started to express their anxiety about match postponements.

Ralph Hasenhuttl, manager of Southampton criticised the Premier League for “opening the door” to fixture postponements through allowing Liverpool to report players ill with covid and then suddenly not ill with covid, given the statistics that show false positive runs at about 0.7%.    That would mean on average Liverpool would have had to have 750 positive cases to come up with five false positives, which in turn would have meant testing over 10,000 people.

Hasenhuttl said of Liverpool, “They have opened the door and you cannot be surprised that someone is walking through.”    The others in this case relate to the postponement of Burnley’s match against Leicester City.

He is particularly arguing that if a game is postponed, players who were not with the club at the time of the original match being planned, should not be able to play in the rearranged fixture.

20 Replies to “Arsenal ask for postponment, but will the club get equal treatment?”

  1. Well put Tony. The media drumbeat is for this match to played with the heavy hitters on Sky coming out leading the charge. A openly Spurs supporting pundit on Talksport last night was very forceful that the match should go ahead as Arsenal were ‘obviously’ up to something. Ignorant, of course, of his teams stance a week or so ago plus Liverpool successful appeal that has raised more than sufficient eyebrows. My gut feel is that we will be forced to play. The EPL opened the door, which they never should have done in my opinion, so should not be surprised Clubs have walked through it, fairly or unfairly. An open door I fear for everyone aside from Arsenal.

  2. The Sun was wrong to a degree re Patino it was playing in the EFL cup that qualified him as one of the 13. The rules on qualification specifically exclude the FA cup 3rd round.

    Only having through choice 20 players of which only 18 were outfield players in the “25”man squad, letting one of these go out on loan, having 4 off to AFCON ( which was well known to be the case going back pre September 1) meant at most you would only have 13 outfield players over 21 available and that is if everything went well.
    Alas you had Xhaka sent off so matters within your own control or indeed things that should have been known meant that you were already going to be depleted even before injuries and COVID.
    If you recall Chelsea failed to get a game cancelled against Wolves the justification for the decision was that a player even if they were around the training squad is available
    I have no idea which way this will go but your circumstances are vastly different although I very very much doubt you will see it that way if for no other reason you have allowed two players out on loan knowing that 4 players are at AFCON.

  3. Mike T,

    funny how Arsenal being thruthfull ends up with comments like yours implying they are stupid but no mention is made of the ‘extraordinary-once-in-a-pandemic-never-seen’ cluster of false positives Pool! had that allowed them to have their game against Arsenal moved around to this week. And then Klopp has the nerve to excuse his players because they had a hard time recovering – from non-existent Covid for Chrissake !

    And implying that Arsenal ought to ‘plan’ on a Xhaka red card is insulting to him, the club and all the fan’s intelligence who all could see the card was just the usual PGMOL biased decision.

    So, basically, hail the liars and damn the guys trying to play by the rule book.

  4. Chris

    First off it wasn’t the PL that agreed to the postponement of the Liverpool game .It was the EFL who operate differently to the PL
    Second the Xhaka sending off is a fact as are all sending off that sending off was down to an on field issue that was of an Arsenal players actions. It wasn’t down to PGMOL nor was it bias it was a justified dismissal

    You haven’t talked about the two players that have been allowed to leave on loan or the fact that the 4 missing AFCON players were all factors that were know about in advance and should have been planned for or the fact that Arsenal were way short of the 25 man squad.

    As for Kloop, I am no fan of his whatsoever but you really need to listen to what he said in that players that had to go into isolation were not able to participate in training and as importantly the pre match routines such as set plays

  5. I’m expecting the decision to go against Arsenal which , given previous postponements, will be unjust. However I think that the club in making the request has scored a couple of own goals.
    Spurs without Son , Dier & Romero are beatable even by an weakened Arsenal 11 but more importantly to go ahead with the fixture & make a big deal about the young players we were having to field would have given an invaluable opportunity to a) highlight the clubs integrity & b) its youth policy. If it’s postponed the PL board shift the emphasis away from the shambles they’ve created & onto the club which just comes in for more flack “….same old Arsenal…always cheating”.

  6. Citing the Liverpool postponement is a false equivalence / whataboutery, I’m afraid – no matter that you’re quite right to say that the highly suspect subsequent rash of false negatives should be investigated.

    A valid example would be the Leeds game in December. They had to play against Arsenal with as many players unavailable as Arteta is missing now. They had a 15 year old on the bench. So if “equal treatment” is to be given, then Arsenal should play tomorrow. Spurs have key injuries too – especially in defence – so still every chance that Arsenal win.

  7. I am not sure I am saying there is an equivalent between Arsenal and Liverpool Jimmy, rather that the Liverpool situation brought the process into disrepute, and now the league has to try and work out what it is going to do next: ignore Liverpool, be very strict on the numbers, be very relaxed on the numbers, accept the club’s word no matter what…

  8. Mike T

    I see you having your say again when it suits, as usual finding a way to justify every single action against Arsenal, but hey that’s what you do.

    But it’s funny I didn’t see hide nor hair of you when I asked why, following at least three mass pitch brawls, V Spurs, V Leicester, and V Leeds, Chelsea have still somehow managed to avoid a points deduction ?

    Yet Arsenal famously received a 2 point deduction for their part in a brawl at Old Trafford. Even United had a one point ban.

    I am going to make two points here because they become relevant later on.

    1) Apparently we received a 2 point deduction because of an earlier misdemeanor at Norwich.

    Okay, as long as that applies to everyone.

    2) Both the Norwich and Man Utd brawls were initiated, or started by if you prefer, our opponents. No mitigating circumstances were taken into account though.

    Okay, as long as that applies to everyone.

    So lets just re visit Chelseas record shall we:



    Following The Battle of the Bridge you were fined £350,000, £150,000 more than Spurs, and why?

    From SKY at the time:

    “The Football Association charged both clubs with three breaches of failing to control their players, with Spurs hit with a £225,000 fine – on top of a £25,000 penalty for collecting six bookings in the game – while Chelsea were fined £375,000 having had more previous misdemeanors”.

    So already by the FA’s own admition you already had a history of misdemeanors. But crucially, despite ‘previous’ no points deduction. Remember we had a points deduction because of a previous misdemeanor. One rule for one,one rule for another.

    WHY ?

    So I was being generous there heading it your ‘first’ really, but we continue.



    Another brawl but this time only a £25,000 Why? Has all that ‘History of misdemeanors’ suddenly disappeared ? Remember we received a 2 points deduction because we had one previous.

    But again crucially, despite what is now becoming a bit of a habit if you’re honest, NO POINTS deduction. This is now at least 3 pitch brawls and still no points deduction.

    WHY ?



    Another pitch brawl. I see a theme developing here don’t you Mike ? No ? Well your not the only one because not only did you not even get fined, crucially again no points deduction.

    WHY ?

    Actually I can answer that for you. Unbelievably it was because Leeds started it! Is that a serious excuse ?

    Since when has retaliation been an excuse ? You tell me Mike, the last time a player didn’t get done for kicking another player on the basis he was kicked first ? usually the retaliator gets it worse.

    You tell me !

    Chelsea have an obvious problem with controlling their players that has resulted in a litany of offences and all they ever get is a slap on the wrist, and they didn’t even get that the last time they had a mass pitch brawl.

    I expect you’ll find a way of excusing it, because as I said, that’s what you do.

    We’ll see.

  9. Nitram

    Try looking at the rules on discipline then you will get your answer. Not too difficult in truth but would help if you wanted to see suspended points deductions don’t get carried forward

    I would have thought that in terms of problems the number of red cards points you to a team with a club having difficulty controlling players.

  10. The problem is Mike that decisions are subjective and we often see similar offences punished differently .

  11. Mike T

    That’s it change the subject.

    Cant you find another bloke to bore the pants off.

  12. Mike T

    Okay, you’re obviously determined to carry on.

    “Try looking at the rules on discipline then you will get your answer.”

    Anyone can come here and say that.

    Show me the rules that enable the FA to deduct 2 points from Arsenal for what happened at Old Trafford and not deduct Chelsea points for their fourth pitch brawl.

  13. Ok clearly you need help

    The PL started in 1992 and the points deduction was prior to that date.

    The reason they had two points deducted as opposed to just one was that in the previous 12 months Arsenal had been found guilty of a charge of bringing the game into disrepute

    If you had looked at the discipline procedures you would have seen the provision about sanctions within a set period are valid for a rolling 12 month period But also you will know that Chelsea’s were charged with failing to control their players no such offence existed in pre PL days and Arsenals charge was bringing the game into disrepute . Man Utd if you remember we’re the masters at surrounding the ref always without sanction

    The incident at Utd was vicious and on a different level to the incidents Chelsea have been fined for over the years ( or come to that other incidents that Arsenal have been found guilty of since the offence was introduced and which there are quite a few)in that 21 players were involved in a fight . I would have thought that you would have realised just how bad the melee was in that Arsenal themselves fined the player and the manager add to that the fact that UEFA directed the FA to charge the clubs and unless things have changed recently it’s the only time since it’s foundation that the FA have ever deducted points from a FL team for player misconduct

  14. Mike T

    “If you had looked at the discipline procedures you would have seen the provision about sanctions within a set period are valid for a rolling 12 month period”

    Chelsea v Leicester City 19th May 2021

    SKY Sports

    “Chelsea and Leicester City fined for failing to control their players during mass brawl in Premier League clash”

    Chelsea v Leeds 11th December 2021

    So as long as Chelsea keep their pitch battles down to one every 7 months they’re okay,and it seems your okay with it. That’s nice to hear.

    “The incident at Utd was vicious and on a different level to the incidents Chelsea have been fined for over the years”

    Now you’re in fantasy land.

    From Planet football:

    “A forensic analysis of the Battle of the Bridge: ‘Most shameful game’.”

    Honestly, whoever was to blame, that was the most disgraceful PL on pitch battle ever.

    Sorry Mike, but your ability to justify anything Chelsea do (3 + pitch battles and not a word of contrition), whilst at the same time bending over backwards to justify every single decision made against us is sad to read.

    Still, you are welcome to your views and are welcome here, I was wrong to suggest otherwise, but I will attempt from now on to do what you suggest and ignore you because frankly you’re not worth the effort anymore.

  15. Nitram

    I am sure you aren’t thick yet….

    Nowhere did I say that it was ok or indeed did I suggest it was ok to be involved in two such incidents I was pointing out a fact in terms of what is written in the regulations.

    But either deliberately or more likely you miss the point is that Chelsea have never been charged with bringing the game into disrepute twice over a rolling period for matters on the pitch

    In the early late 1980s early 1990s it was unheard of for a charge of the sort both Utd and Arsenal faced . These brawls happened on a regular basis indeed look at this video from 1986/7

    You will see just how violet games were and when you factor this game didn’t result in a charge you perhaps will get a flavour of how bad the 1990 incident was and yep it wasn’t a PL game but the “Battle Of The Bridge “ was nothing by comparison and when you realise that this incident is the only time, yes the only time that a FL or PL club has ever been deducted points for players behaviour on the pitch that again tells you even more

    As an aside Chelsea weren’t charged following that Leeds game , Leeds were !

    Another point you don’t seem to realise What you don’t seem to grasp is that the bulk of offences Chelsea have been fined for aren’t in respect of a brawl it’s because of surrounding the ref. Individual players have not been subjected to individual charges, as they were in that 1990 incident because the on field ref has dealt with matters all bar retrospective action against one player
    As for the “Battle of the Bridge “ Have you ever read the FA findings or written reason in relation to why Chelsea were fined more or indeed the fact that the fines were reduced on appeal ? I have

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