Arsenal travel to face Chelsea on Sunday 6th November at 12pm GMT at a very unusual time.
Several Premier League matches this season have already raised eyebrows among supporters as their teams have had to play in less familiar situations than the usual weekend schedule.
Here, Athletics The timing of Sunday’s London derby explains why.
What are the traditional Premier League kick-off times?
Regular viewers of English football will be able to memorize the weekly schedule of the Premier League. The weekend usually kicks off at 12.30pm on Saturday and BT Sport has the rights to that specific slot. That is, unless a game has been selected for Friday Night Football, it will kick off at 8pm in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Due to English football’s blackout law, Saturday’s 3pm matches cannot be broadcast in the UK. When that darkness lifts at 5.15pm, a Saturday Night Football match usually kicks off a quarter of an hour later.
Then, on Sunday, Sky Sports usually airs at 1 p.m. There will be two Super Sunday games starting at 2pm and 4.30pm. During European mid-week weekends, there will be more matches on a Sunday, this season, including Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham. Sometimes there is also a Monday night football game, which always starts at 8pm.
What is the reason for the different scenarios televised?
In this particular case, Arsenal’s Europa League commitments forced the game to be moved to Sunday’s earlier section. The game will be shown live on BT Sport but the Gunners are in action on Thursday night so the game cannot be played in their usual Saturday 12.30 slot.
24 hours after Chelsea host Dinamo Zagreb, FC Zurich are in London to face Arsenal at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta’s side have qualified for the Europa League knockout stages but will need to avoid going up against a relegated Champions League side. Matching PSV’s result will guarantee them top spot.
The turnaround between Thursday night’s clash and a potential Saturday lunchtime fixture is so short that it would be unfair to expect the current Premier League leaders to play on those days. Instead, they get an extra day to recover and prepare by playing, instead showing up on Sunday.
Have opening times been criticized before?
Yes, several managers of clubs competing in the Premier League and Europe have expressed their frustration at some of the opening moments. Arteta was indeed one of those who criticized the 12.30pm Saturday kick-off last season.
After being beaten by Liverpool on a Wednesday evening in March, Arsenal had to prepare to travel to Aston Villa at the weekend. They managed to win the match 1-0 and strengthen their stay in the top-four at the time, but the Spaniard was not happy ahead of the match.
He said: “Thank you very much to the Premier League, do it, and they did it again when we had to play Chelsea and Manchester United, so if they want to give them some advantage, I would say to them today, thank you very much and do it.”
Arteta is fuming about a short return to Villa, and fixtures are reshuffled as they face Chelsea and United in the space of a few days.
“Many thanks to the Premier League… it’s not fair.”
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) March 16, 2022
Jurgen Klopp has also been a critic of that particular fixture. Amid Liverpool’s failed quadruple charge at the end of last season, his side had to follow up a Champions League semi-final at Villarreal on Wednesday evening with a trip to Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime.
Klopp Villarreal Wed/Tues with Sat 12.30 with Newcastle at: “If you want to cause us problems send us at Newcastle at 12.30. The league and broadcaster should try to help. No one at BT has contacted me yet. Common sense would say . You’re right to move it.”
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) April 14, 2022
Has the 12pm Sunday slot been used before?
Yes. The only time it has been used this season was in another Arsenal game; Their 3-0 away win against Brentford in mid-September.
Other than that, it’s one of the more unusual Premier League kick-off times. The only time it has been used with any frequency was during the Covid-affected 2020–21 season to provide individual television commentary for each game.
Will it be used again?
With no more European soccer until February, there are no plans for any other confirmed televised games to be played in the Sunday midday slot. While the fixtures for the rest of the festive season have all been confirmed, supporters may be pleased to hear that none of them will be played at 12pm on Sunday.
However, it can be used again once the knockout matches of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League begin to be played.
(Photo: Getty Images)