Why is the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea on Tuesday 2 May and not this weekend?
The fixture between the London rivals was due to be played on Saturday 29 April before being rescheduled ‘at short notice’ by the Premier League.
Arsenal vs Chelsea has been one of the Premier League’s blockbuster fixtures over the last 20 years or so, although at this particular moment in time, it sees two teams feeling sorry for themselves coming up against other another. It may seem a strange thing to say about the Gunners, who are still top of the league, but it looks as if they have all but blown their hopes of a first title since 2004 after three successive draws and a thumping defeat to rivals Manchester City. The less said about the Blues the better, with the 2021 Champions League winners in the bottom half of the table and on a run of five defeats in a row under caretaker manager Frank Lampard.
Why and when was Arsenal vs Chelsea moved?
The matchday 34 fixture between the two was due to be played today, Saturday 29 April, at the Emirates but was rescheduled for Tuesday 2 May at ‘short notice’…according to some. Because the game was picked to be shown live by UK broadcaster Sky Sports, kick-off was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. local time, which the Metropolitan Police said would cause policing issues and “a higher risk of crime, anti-social behaviour and disorder” due to the fact that it was a London derby.
Arsenal “very disappointed” with fixture change
The Premier League confirmed that the fixture would be moved to a new date and time on Tuesday 11 April, less than three weeks before it was due to take place on its original date. Safe to say, neither club were impressed, with Arsenal issuing the following statement:
“The Premier League has announced that our home league match against Chelsea will now take place on Tuesday, May 2, kicking off at 8pm (UK time).
“This change has been made as a result of the Metropolitan Police revising its position on policing the match. After working to try to find a solution with the Met Police, we are very disappointed with the impact and disruption this fixture change will cause to our supporters, particularly after this match had been initially approved for a Saturday evening kick-off.”
Metropolitan Police hit back over rescheduling
However, having been approached by British newspaper The Mirror, the Police explained that they had advised the Premier League and indeed Arsenal of the potential issue at the beginning of February and that there was no need for the match to be scheduled on a different date.
“The Met works closely with partners to ensure the safety and security of those attending football matches in London.
“On 2nd February, within 24 hours of being informed of the proposed scheduling of this match, the Met raised an issue with Arsenal Football Club and the Premier League regarding the proposed 17:30hrs kick off for the Arsenal V Chelsea football match on Saturday 29th April, on the basis that the later weekend kick off time presents a higher risk of crime, anti-social behaviour and disorder.
“To mitigate these risks, the Met asked for the match to take place at an earlier time on the same day (Saturday 29th April), and our position on this has not changed.
“An Emergency Safety Advisory Group meeting with key partners on 6th February failed to resolve the issue, and following a further meeting on 31st March the suggested earlier kick off time was declined by Arsenal and the Premier League, who instead decided to reschedule the fixture to the alternative time and date of 20:00hrs on Tuesday 2nd May.”
A soccer-free weekend for Arsenal and Chelsea fans, with the blame game seemingly yet to find a clear winner.