Manchester City vs West Ham & Aston Villa vs Arsenal postponed following Dubai WSL controversy
By Ali Rampling
Saturday's WSL clash between Aston Villa and Arsenal and Sunday's fixture between Manchester City and West Ham have been postponed following a number of positive COVID-19 tests in the City and Arsenal camp.
Three Arsenal players flew to Dubai during the Christmas break after London moved into Tier 4, and one has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, several Gunners players are self-isolating.
Arsenal confirmed the news on the club's official website, announcing that a new date will be scheduled in due course.
The Telegraph reported that Arsenal's Dubai excursions were investigated by the club, who came to the conclusion that they had been made for "business reasons".
Four City players have tested positive after also travelling to Dubai during the Christmas break with the club's permission. Manchester was in Tier 3 at the time, meaning travel to foreign countries with an open travel corridor was permitted but not advised.
City will also be without USWNT duo Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, who are on an international training camp with the United States until the end of January, meaning they will be unable to field a squad of 14 players.
"The health, safety and wellbeing of the players and staff at both clubs is the overriding priority for West Ham United, Manchester City and the FA," a statement released by West Ham read.
"West Ham United will now work closely with Manchester City and the FA to arrange a new date for the fixture, which will be confirmed in due course."
The decision to allow Arsenal and Manchester City - two of the biggest sides in the WSL - to postpone matches because of coronavirus when players have contracted the virus during controversial trips to Dubai that they chose to make, has been met with criticism.
Bristol City requested their trip to Manchester City in November be postponed after five first-team players were forced to self-isolate. This was rejected, the Robins could only name five substitutes and lost 8-1.
Reading's Emma Mitchell took to Twitter to criticise the inconsistency, writing: "Que [cue] the Arsenal game getting postponed.. We see you @BarclaysFAWSL @FA different rules for different teams."
Former Arsenal forward Ian Wright had also urged for the match with Aston Villa to go ahead, writing: "So we asking for a postponement because we broke the rules??!! Players have every right to be upset but why should Villa be punished? Play the game."