Today I should have been writing a pre-match blog previewing our home game against Wolves.
I planned to moan about us having to play twice within 48 hours; but how our exciting youngsters and good form should carry us through against a Wolves side with just 1 win in 7.
Then the news broke on Boxing Day that the game was to be suspended due to Wolves not having enough players.
Over the last few weeks, games being suspended due to Covid have been a frustration of mine.
We see teams getting games called off due to 5 or 6 players ill. In Wolves case they have 6 players with Covid. Is this really enough to get a game called off?
During the course of a regular season, there is always a team that has more injuries than others. When we played Leeds United a couple of weeks ago, they had 9 injuries. The game went ahead.
Why does having 6 players with Covid get a game postponed whilst a team with the same level of injuries has to play on.
Some will say “it’s an illness” but the Premier League do not postpone games due to influence or food poisoning.
And Premier League teams have large squads.
Before the season commences they submit an A list and B list to the league. In the case of Wolves, these two lists contain 76 players.
So out of 76 players registered to play in the Premier League, less than 10% have Covid. They still have over 60 players to pick from.
And these are all senior players. Over the age of 16.
The problem for those Premier League sides applying to get games postponed is not that they do not have enough players available; but they do not deem their younger players to be good enough.
Why should games be postponed due to a club not having good enough players? If that was justification to postponed games, Norwich City wouldn’t have played a game this season.
And Wolves in particular is an interesting case.
The argument being used at the moment seems to be that sides do not have 13 outfield players and one keeper available to them.
They have 6 players with Covid and a further 6 injured. But we should disregard the injured players as that happens during the course of the season.
As discussed above, Wolves have 76 players registered to play in the Premier League. So they could field 13 outfield players and a keeper if they were forced too.
If the argument is that they can not field the 14 total players from their List A due to injury and Covid, then this is their fault.
Wolves only named 21 players in their List A. You can have 25.
They named their full contingent of non-home grown players (17) but just 4 home grown players.
Two of their senior players are keepers, leaving them with just 19 “senior” outfield players.
That means Wolves only need to have 7 players out injured or with Covid to then be able to claim that they do not have enough players to fulfil a game.
Yet they made the active decision of not having enough senior players through their squad. Had they had the full 25, would they have been able to fulfil the game?
The answer is yes.
Had they had 25 List A players, with 12 out with Covid and injury they would have 13 fit players. It would therefore only require one promotion from List B to have the 13+1.
They have literally decided to have a smaller squad.
It is an advantage to have a smaller squad if everyone is fit as your wage budget can be shared amongst less players. That allows you a better quality of player but a lower quantity of player.
But it then means if you get a few injuries you do not have the strength in depth to back them up.
It seems the decision to not have a big senior squad is currently being rewarded.
The Premier League cocked up by beginning to allows teams to postpone games and it opened the flood gates.
Crystal Palace requested their game against Tottenham be suspended due to Covid; And then made just 1 change from their previous game.
For me, every team can fulfil every fixture. Their List A & B squads combined gives them more than enough players.
The Premier League should have enforced their own rules. If a club decides to not fulfil a fixture, they forfeit the result.
That would punish the likes of Wolves who made the active decision to not have enough senior players and do not think their List B players to be good enough to play for them. Or it would force them to rely on those youngsters, majority of whom are over 18.
If Wolves wish to postponed the game, Arsenal should be awarded a 3-0 win.