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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists his team intend to play Tottenham despite postponement talks


ikel Arteta has insisted Arsenal’s “intention is always to play”, amid fears Sunday’s north London derby could be postponed.

The Gunners were already short on numbers ahead of last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Anfield, which finished 0-0, and their problems were worsened after Granit Xhaka was sent off and Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares were forced to come off with possible injuries.

It leaves Arsenal facing the prospect of having just 12 first-team, outfield players available for Sunday’s trip to Tottenham. Premier League guidance states clubs must have outfield 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper.

Arsenal are understood to be considering the prospect of requesting postponing the game as they are assess their squad on Friday afternoon.

Asked if he would like the game to go ahead, Arteta replied: “I don’t know, it’s difficult to say that with total honesty without assessing our players,

“But 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.”

Arsenal’s squad could be boosted by the weekend and the team were due to report to their London Colney base this afternoon for training.

Per League protocols, players were due to undergo a round of Covid-19 testing and Arsenal have had at least one squad member test positive for the virus before all six of their last games. Martin Odegaard tested positive ahead of the Liverpool game and will miss Sunday’s derby.

Cedric and Saka were due to be assessed today by medical staff after limping off last night, while Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Sead Kolasinac (hamstring) and Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf) will all be checked after missing last night’s game against Liverpool.

Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey are at the Africa Cup of Nations, taking Arsenal’s list of possible absentees for the weekend to 11.

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