Tottenham Hotspur, like many other clubs this season, have had to deal with a number of COVID-related match postponements that have wreaked havoc on the intended league schedule. And also the Arsenal match.
According to Sami Mokbel at the Daily Mail, there’s now a tentative date for the NLD, and it will be the week of May 9. Mokbel states that the league still has to formally approve a new date but this looks like a viable option.
Potentially crucial NLD pencilled in for the week (not weekend) beginning May 9. Date still to be confirmed by Premier League but both clubs told that’s the direction of travel. https://t.co/HohrLv2iIr— Sami Mokbel (@SamiMokbel81_DM) March 30, 2022
The second NLD at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, originally set for January 15, was called off on the day it was supposed to take place and under somewhat shady circumstances. Arsenal, which was dealing with a raft of injuries and absences related to the ongoing African Cup of Nations, was able to successfully appeal to the Premier League to postpone the match after it reported one (1) positive COVID-19 result, with which the club argued put it under the league’s minimum available first team players policy during the COVID era. The Premier League’s COVID policies were vague enough to have this enormous loophole that the Gunners identified and used to their advantage. Bully for them, I guess?
Of course, Spurs fans howled in indignation at the time, even though they were dealing with some significant injuries of their own. Even so, the match going forward looked like a net positive for Spurs, as Arsenal were stretched paper thin at the time. After the postponement, the league then tightened up their policies regarding COVID-related cancellations, continuing a trend of leagues changing their policies but only after they screw over Tottenham.
If what Mokbel says comes to fruition, the NLD would likely take place sometime between Monday, May 9 and Friday, May 13. That would make the North London Derby Tottenham’s third to last league match, and sandwiches it between the trip to Anfield to play Liverpool on Saturday, May 7 and a home tie against Burnley on Sunday, May 15. Meanwhile, Arsenal are home to Leeds on May 7 before traveling to Newcastle on the 15th.
A mid-week option like Wednesday, May 11 or Thursday, May 12 is the most likely option, as doing it early would mean a very tight turnaround after the Liverpool match, and a Friday would butt up against the Burnley game. However, there are likely other factors at play such as other matches taking place in north London at the time, as well as transit schedules and Metropolitan Police availability. In addition, Liverpool’s involvement in the Champions League semifinals could result in the Liverpool match getting moved to Sunday, which in theory could give Arsenal an extra day of preparation.
In other words, it’s complicated, and we won’t know for sure until it’s formally announced.
But what it does mean is this date range potentially makes the North London Derby one of the most consequential matches of the season for both Arsenal and Spurs, as there’s a decent chance that it could have massive implications for top four and qualification for the Champions League. Maybe. Spurs could also drop points elsewhere and make it a dead rubber, of course. But imagine a situation where there’s a NLD six pointer two weeks before the end of the season between bitter rivals who are both close to each other in the table. The #narrative would be insane. I’m already vomiting due to nervousness.