EXCLUSIVE: Tottenham and Arsenal are set to play the crucial North London Derby in the penultimate week of the Premier League season… with the clash a potential Champions League decider
- The North London derby will take place in the second final week of the season
- It was revamped after Arsenal controversially claimed a Covid outbreak
- The clash could end up being one of the four main deciders, with the two sides still fighting
The potentially crucial North London Derby has been scheduled for the penultimate week of the season in a grudge clash broadcasters hope will be billed as a Champions League do-or-die decider.
Sportsmail have learned that Tottenham and Arsenal have been told by the Premier League that they plan to postpone the game for the week starting May 9, although a final date has yet to be officially confirmed.
Nonetheless, well-placed sources have confirmed that top-flight officials have made it known to both clubs that the aim is to play the game before the penultimate weekend of the season.
Tottenham and Arsenal’s revamped North London Derby is set to take place in the penultimate week of the Premier League season
Tensions erupted between Antonio Conte (L) and Gunners boss Mikel Arteta (R) after Arsenal postponed the initial game due to a Covid outbreak – despite only one case
No European club games are scheduled for this week, which means the game will be in the spotlight, which should boost viewing figures.
The match will likely be shown live on Sky Sports, which was due to show the clash when it was originally scheduled for January 16.
It had been reported to Sportsmail that broadcasters were exercising their considerable control over fixture scheduling with a view to rescheduling the match as late as possible in the hope that the north London rivals would still be involved in the race to finish in the top four.
The crucial match could be a decisive top four with both teams still very present
These claims were played down, with industry insiders saying rescheduling it so late in the season risked having nothing to do with the game other than local pride.
As things stand, there seems to be every chance that the match will be decisive in deciding who qualifies for next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal are currently in fourth place, three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, but above all have a game in hand.
The match will also have an added benefit amid rising tensions between the clubs after Arsenal were controversially given the green light to postpone the original January date due to a Covid outbreak in their camp.
Tottenham have been angered by the postponement of Arsenal’s opener – which only adds another layer of spice to the contest
The decision infuriated Tottenham, who believed the Gunners had only one proven case of Covid – Martin Odegaard.
That friction intensified earlier this month after Spurs boss Antonio Conte became frustrated by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s complaint that his team had been roughed up by the Premier League in terms of schedule of meetings.
‘I just want to remember [remind] Arteta [about] the match we postponed – Tottenham v Arsenal, okay? Yes, if we talk about fair or unfair, fine, and I’m done,” Conte said.
‘If anyone wants to talk about fair or unfair. We postponed a Tottenham game against Arsenal, if you remember. I don’t forget that and I don’t think it’s fair to talk about fair or unfair.