Arsenal postponement 'strange and surprising' – Spurs boss Conte

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte says the decision by the Premier League to postpone the north London derby was “strange and surprising”

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says the Premier League should only postpone matches because of Covid-19 cases and not for injuries or players on international duty.

It follows the postponement of Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal.

Conte says the decision to postpone the game was “strange and surprising”.

“My feeling is that when there is a situation to play, we have to play,” Conte said at a news conference to preview the game with Leicester City.

Arsenal’s request to postpone the game, as they did not have enough players, was granted on Saturday.

Premier League rules say clubs can apply for postponements if Covid-19 is a factor in teams having fewer than 13 players and a goalkeeper available.

In a statement, Spurs said Arsenal’s request was made “on the basis of a combination of Covid, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations”.

Conte says the “big problem” is Covid-19 and games should not be postponed for “other situations”.

He added: “We should not postpone games for injuries, for international duty. I think we have a big problem to solve and it’s Covid, but only about this situation can you decide to postpone, not for other situations.

“Honestly, it’s my first time in my life – and I’ve had a bit of experience in football – I’ve seen this type of decision. It was very strange.

“If the Premier League decides to postpone games for injury it means that maybe they have to try to make a better schedule and reduce games.

“But I repeat, this is the first time in my life that there is a league that has postponed the game for injuries. It is very strange and surprising.”

‘The rules are clear’

However, Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers, whose side host Spurs on Wednesday, said the Premier League’s rules are “clear”.

“For the Premier League, you have to have 13 outfield players available plus a goalkeeper,” Rodgers said. “So there’s enough clarity.

“It doesn’t say you need all your cases to be Covid, you just need 13 players available.

“Every coach and manager wants to play. Not every Under-23 player is ready to play Premier League football.”

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