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By ESPN Staff

Arsenal relief at Fratton Park postponement

Arsenal were relieved to see their Barclays Premiership match at Portsmouth postponed because of a waterlogged Fratton Park pitch but the south coast club were seething with frustration over referee Mike Riley's decision an hour before the scheduled kick-off.

The Gunners face Italian champions Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League at Highbury on Tuesday night and looked in growing concern at a Portsmouth pitch battered by a day of rain before the scheduled 5.15pm start.

But after three inspections, and a pessimistic weather forecast, Yorkshire official Riley was joined by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, vice chairman David Dein and Pompey coach Joe Jordan for a final verdict.

Riley said: 'The most important figure is the Portsmouth groundsman who said he didn't think he could clear the surface in time.

'The safety of the players is always paramount and the risk of tackling on that surface is evident. You cannot have players of this calibre getting injured through it.'

Arsenal were back on their team bus and heading for London as Pompey manager Harry Redknapp said: 'I'm disappointed. We were prepared to play because it would have been a good time to play Arsenal and I've played on worst surfaces than that but we have to abide by the referee's decision, even though it is against us.'

Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric said: 'We were prepared to play the game. The momentum was with us and our supporters would have been up for it. This has done us no favours.'

Portsmouth were looking for their third win in a row to aid their bid to climb out of the Premiership relegation zone while Arsenal would have climbed to fourth had they taken all three points.