Why is Chelsea vs Arsenal kicking off at 12pm on a Sunday?

Arsenal face Chelsea at the very unusual time of 12:00 GMT on Sunday 6th November.

A couple of Premier League games this season have already raised eyebrows among supporters as their teams have been forced to play at times unfamiliar to the typical weekend schedule.

Here, The Athletic explains the reason for the timing of Sunday’s London Derby.

What are the traditional Premier League kick-off times?

Regular viewers of English football could probably recite the Premier League’s weekly schedule by heart. The weekend usually starts at 12.30pm on Saturday, when BT Sport have the rights to that slot. That is, of course, unless a match has been selected for Friday Night Football, which usually kicks off at 8pm in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Due to the blackout law in English football, Saturday 15:00 matches cannot be broadcast in the UK. When the blackout starts at 5:15 p.m., the Saturday night football game usually starts a quarter of an hour later.

Then on Sunday, Sky Sports usually plays two Super Sunday games starting at 2pm and 4.30pm. On the weekends following European Wednesdays, more games are played on Sundays, with Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham taking part this season. Sometimes there is also a Monday night football match which always starts at 8pm.

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What is the reason for the different TV start times?

In this scenario, the game has had to be moved to an early Sunday kick-off due to Arsenal’s Europa League commitments. The game will be shown live on BT Sport but cannot be played on their usual Saturday 12.30pm slot as the Gunners are in action on Thursday night.

24 hours after Chelsea host Dinamo Zagreb, FC Zurich are in London to face Arsenal at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta’s side have reached the knockout stages of the Europa League, but want to avoid the knockout stages of one of the weaker Champions League teams; Matching PSV’s result guarantees them the top spot.

The turnaround between Thursday night’s game and a possible Saturday lunchtime match is too short and it would be unreasonable to expect the current Premier League leaders to play on these days. Instead, they get an extra day to recover and prepare when the game is played and shown on Sunday instead.

Have the start times been criticized before?

Yes, several Managers of clubs competing in the Premier League and Europe have expressed their frustration with certain kick-off times. Arteta was actually one of those who criticized Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off last season.

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After beating Liverpool on Wednesday night in March, Arsenal had to prepare for an early weekend trip to Aston Villa. They were able to win the match 1-0 to strengthen their grip on the top four at the time, but before the game the Spaniard was not happy.

He said: “Well done to the Premier League for doing that and they’ve done it again when we have to play against Chelsea and Manchester United, so if they want to give them an advantage I’ll say to them today, thank you very much for doing that.”

Jurgen Klopp has also criticized the venue in question. In the midst of Liverpool’s failed quadruple last season, his side had to follow Wednesday night’s Champions League semi-final visit of Villarreal to Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime.

Has the 12 o’clock Sunday time been used before?

Yeah. The only other time it has been used this season was in one of Arsenal’s games; their 3-0 away win against Brentford in mid-September.

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Otherwise, this is one of the most unusual kick-offs in the Premier League. The only other times it has been used with any frequency was during the 2020-21 Covid season, when each game was given its own TV slot.

Will it be used again?

With no more European football in February, there are no plans to play any of the confirmed televised games in the midday Sunday slot. The games to be played until the end of the festive season have all been confirmed and supporters may be pleased to hear that none of them will be played at 12pm on Sunday.

However, once the Champions League, Europa League and Europa League play-offs have started, it can be used again.

(Photo: Getty Images)


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