Micah Richards does not believe Arsenal have done anything wrong by requesting the postponement of the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsenal should have been taking on their cross-city rivals on Sunday afternoon. However, they asked for the game to be postponed due to a shortage of first-team players. The Premier League upheld their request.
The decision has caused some controversy. That’s because not all of their absences are because of Covid-19. Granit Xhaka is serving a suspension, for example. What’s more, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are away at the African Cup of Nations.
Overall, Arsenal have up to 12 players missing and only the same number of outfield players available.
As per Premier League regulations, clubs must fulfil fixtures so long as they have 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper. Therefore, Arsenal’s request for a postponement was granted.
But some feel they have bent the rules somewhat. Rivals Tottenham released their own statement asking for clarity about the decision.
Others have also waded into the debate. But pundit Micah Richards has taken sides with Arsenal.
He said on Sky Sports: “I just feel like when it’s Arsenal, everyone wants to lump in for some reason.
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“Arsenal have been in great form and by the rules they’ve done nothing wrong.
“Like the lads have said here, the clarity and they’re playing by what they perceive they don’t have enough first-team players.
Micah Richards: ‘They’ve done nothing wrong’
“So I understand other people being frustrated. But in my opinion, they’ve done nothing wrong.
“And let’s be honest, other clubs would do the same thing as well. This is not an Arsenal thing.
“People say the way they’ve handled it, they could have been better. Yes of course, I think in terms of integrity of the game. But if you know that you’ve not got senior players fit.
“Every team in the Premier League would look after themselves and if they say they wouldn’t then they’re lying.”
Arsenal told to steal Tottenham signing
There is certainly no harmony between Arsenal and Tottenham. However, this latest incident transcends their own rivalry and raises bigger questions.
At a more direct level, they could come into battle again by pursuing the same player in the transfer market.
Spurs are aiming to seal a £20million deal for the Spain international during the January transfer window. Antonio Conte is looking to convert the attacker into a right wing-back.
However, Keown has told the Gunners to hijack any deal. That’s after he witnessed Traore’s goalscoring display in Wolves’ 3-1 win against Southampton on Saturday.
Speaking on BBC Final Score, Keown said: “I feel Traore is awesome at times and just for once, we have the satisfaction of seeing it. It’s a lovely finish from him.
“I’d sign him if I was a manager. Arsenal – get in and buy him!”