Throughout the last couple of months of the pandemic, I have had a consistent view.
Football games should not be postponed due to “Covid and injuries”.
Every Premier League side has registered over 50 players across their A and B lists. To announce they are unable to field a starting XI and 7 subs is just laughable.
It was interesting to note that last weekend, faced with forfeiting the tie, no FA Cup game was postponed due to Covid. Every team managed to put out a side.
Then we return to the Premier League and all of a sudden Everton v Leicester City is postponed due to the visitors being unable to field and XI. It is just a joke.
In Mikel Arteta’s post-game interview after the Liverpool game, he all but said we are down to the bare bones.
Injury, suspension and the African Cup of Nations have stripped us of a team of players. But we should not request a postponement.
We have one of the most expensively assembled squads in sport. A wage bill which dwarfs almost every team in England and beyond. We have no excuses not to be able to field and XI.
And in fact we can field an XI:
343 is the formation that saw Arsenal lift the FA Cup, and it is an XI where 10 of the players have been capped by their country.
Moving down to the bench, that is also strong:
It might not be the strongest bench in the world, but every single player has made a senior appearance for Arsenal. Combined the 7 players on the bench have played over 1300 domestic games.
In January Arsenal have let Ainsley Maitland-Nile’s and Folarin Balogun go out on loan. If the club were concerned about a player shortage whilst the ACoN’s is on they should have let both until the end of the month.
Sunday needs to go ahead. Arsenal need to stand apart from the rest of the league and make a point of playing games even when the squad is ravaged.
Having players out has never been a reason to postpone games previously. It should not be now.