Mikel Arteta says the postponement of the North London derby was for ‘the right reasons’ following criticism of Arsenal’s request to the Premier League.
Arsenal’s game with Tottenham was postponed last weekend following a request from the Gunners, who advised their squad was depleted as a result of Covid cases, AFCON, injuries and suspension.
Arteta’s side have been criticised following their successful application given that their absences were largely down to injuries, suspension and player departures, though speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool, the Spaniard has insisted his side had no alternative.
“We didn’t have the players necessary to put a squad available to compete in a Premier League match, that is 100% guaranteed,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“But it’s a no win situation, when we played the first three games of the season while other teams were postponing matches, we played and we tried to play. We were killed because they say don’t be naive because if you have that many players out don’t play your kids.
“And now we postpone the match for all the right reasons believe me and as well you get those reactions but I think they are normal.”
Arteta pointed to his side’s completion of previous fixtures despite a lack of senior options and says Thursday’s night’s clash with Liverpool at the Emirates will go ahead as planned bar any unforeseen changes.
“We played against Nottingham Forest when we had 10 players out. And we went to Liverpool and we had many players out.
“We have played with academy players when we already have the youngest squad in the league. We have to be consistent and I think we’ve been really consistent.
“Tomorrow if we have the players available as I expect we will play the match because we want to play football.”
Thursday’s game could go to extra time and penalties, though Arteta says his side will have the players to play for 120 minutes if necessary.
“We will have the players that we have whether we play 90 or 120 minutes or penalties we’ll do so with players that have the belief that we can win that game.”