Arsenal’s request to postpone Sunday’s North London derby against Tottenham has sparked controversy.
And looking back to 2006, Spurs have every right to be angry.
The Gunners could be without 12 first-team players, but it is understood the two clubs have the same number of COVID-19 cases: one.
Many believe clubs are beginning to exploit the pandemic to postpone matches when a full squad is unavailable, often for reasons unrelated to COVID.
And it was Arsenal who benefited at the expense of Spurs when the Premier League’s postponement rules were much stricter.
Not even ten senior players feeling violently ill after food poisoning from questionable lasagna could convince the top flight to postpone Tottenham’s final day clash with West Ham in 2006, despite qualifying for the Champions League stakes.
A win over West Ham at Upton Park on the final day of the 2005/06 season would have secured fourth place for Spurs, but the task was made much more difficult…
“We had 10 players sick overnight,” manager Martin Jol said after the game. “We asked to postpone the game for 24 hours but we didn’t want to risk sanctions.”
Former Spurs captain Michael Dawson, one of several key players forced to play due to illness, recalled the incident on talkSPORT in May.
He said: “Saturday night we went to a hotel in Canary Wharf and WOW, late Saturday night and early Sunday morning I was hard on five or six other players.
“Back then it wasn’t like today when you’re in a hotel before every game and it wasn’t even an early kick-off.
“I remember we had our evening meal, I went back to my room and I think around 10/11 o’clock I was like ‘wow, I feel hard!’ I phoned the woman to tell her I hadn’t slept, then an hour later I called her back and I’m really, really sick, sick.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to have trouble playing the next day.’ both fell and I was like, ‘I’m fighting, I don’t know how I’m going to play.
“I remember saying that I didn’t think I would be the only person to get sick. I went for a walk in the morning and felt washed clean, drained. I wasn’t the only one, there were five or six of us really struggling.
“The police came to the hotel. It’s a major thing because the Champions League was on the line and all of a sudden six or seven of us are losing.
“They said they could delay the game for an hour but I thought it would take me about three days to recover from that!”
The clash in east London went as normal and Dawson started but Spurs didn’t get the result they needed as they lost 2-1.
The defeat was made worse by the fact that Arsenal lifted Spurs to fourth with a home win against Wigan.
“We came in and we didn’t play and I was one of them who had a game nightmare,” Dawson added.
“There were players coming in that morning who hadn’t been involved all season – you better have played them because we had no energy. I remember Michael Carrick coming out at the start of the second half and being completely washed out.
“It was devastating. Anyone can lose a game, we may have lost the game, we’ll never know, but not being on equal footing was hard to accept.
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