Arsenal travel to face Chelsea at the very unusual time of 12pm GMT on Sunday 6 November.
A number of Premier League games this season have raised eyebrows among supporters as their teams have been forced to play at odd times in line with the regular weekend schedule.
Here, The Athletic explains the reason behind the timing of Sunday’s London derby.
What are the oldest Premier League seasons?
Regular English football fans can recite the Premier League’s weekly schedule by heart. Weekends usually start at 12.30pm on Saturdays when BT Sport has the rights to that spot. That is, unless a game is selected for Friday Night Football which usually kicks off at 8pm in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Due to the English football blackout, the following games on Saturday will not be broadcast in the UK. As darkness rises at 5.15pm, Saturday Night Football kicks off a quarter of an hour later.
Then, on Sundays, Sky Sports usually carries two Super Sunday matches starting at 2pm and 4.30pm. With a successful midweek weekend in Europe, there will be more games on Sunday, this year, involving Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham. There will also occasionally be a Monday Night Football match which always starts at 8pm.
What is the reason for the different kick-off times on television?
In this case, the match had to be moved to the first Sunday due to Arsenal’s commitment to the Europa League. The game is being shown on BT Sport but the game will not be played in its usual 12.30 Saturday slot because 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 qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League but will be looking to avoid a play-off against one of the relegated Champions League sides; matching PSV’s result will guarantee them first place.
The transition between Thursday night’s clash and a possible lunchtime game on Saturday is very short and it would be unrealistic to expect the current Premier League leaders to play on those days. Instead, they get an extra day to recover and prepare for the game that is played, and shown, on Sunday.
Have startup times been criticized before?
Yes, several managers of competing teams in the Premier League and Europe have expressed their frustration at certain kick-off times. Arteta was actually one of those who criticized the Saturday 12.30pm game last year.
After being beaten by Liverpool on Wednesday evening in March, Arsenal had to prepare for the weekend trip to Aston Villa. They managed to win the match 1-0 to strengthen their hold on fourth place at the time, but before the match, the Spaniard was unhappy.
He said:Thank you very much to the Premier League, for doing that and they did it again when we had to play Chelsea and Manchester United, so if they want to give them any chance, I say to them today, thank you very much for doing that .”
Arteta is furious at the short transfer to Villa, and the re-arrangement which means they will face Chelsea and United in the space of a few days.
“I’m very grateful to the Premier League… It’s not fair.”
– Gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) March 16, 2022
Jurgen Klopp was also critical of the game. Amid Liverpool’s bid to fail in the final four last season, his side had to follow Wednesday evening’s Champions League visit of Villarreal with a Saturday lunchtime trip to Newcastle.
Klopp on playing Villarreal Wed / Tues and Sat 12.30 Newcastle between: “If you want to cause us problems send us to 12.30 Newcastle. The league and the broadcaster should try to help. No one from BT has join me. you that it is right to run it.”
– James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) April 14, 2022
Has the Sunday 12pm slot been used before?
Yes. The only other time spent this season was one of Arsenal’s games; their 3-0 win against Brentford in mid-September.
After all, it is one of the rarest times to start in the Premier League. The only other times it was used regularly at any time was during the Covid-2020-21 season when every game was given a TV slot.
Will it be used again?
With no more football in Europe until February, there are no plans for any confirmed televised matches to be played on Sunday afternoons. The games until the end of the holiday are all confirmed and supporters will be pleased to hear that none of them will be played at 12pm on Sunday.
However, once the knockout stages of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League start to be played, it may be used again.
(Photo: Getty Images)