Title-chasing Arsenal’s league match against Chelsea has been pushed back three days after the Metropolitan Police “revised its position”, the Premier League has announced.
The Gunners are fighting it out with reigning champions Manchester City for the title and currently boast a six-point cushion, although Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.
The teams also meet at the Etihad Stadium on April 26 – a match that Arsenal were set to follow with an all-London clash against Chelsea on April 29.
But the Premier League has announced that the fixture is being switched from its Saturday night kick-off to the evening of Tuesday, May 2 due to the local police’s request.
A league statement read: “The initial scheduling of this match was approved at a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meeting in February.
“However, the Metropolitan Police has now revised its position regarding the kick-off time and requested a further SAG meeting which determined the match had to be rescheduled.
“We regret the need to move this fixture at late notice and the impact this will have on supporters. The game will remain live on Sky Sports.”
Arsenal expressed their frustration with the decision to move the match from a Saturday evening kick-off to a Tuesday night.
“This change has been made as a result of the Metropolitan Police revising its position on policing the match,” the club said on their official website.
The Football Supporters’ Association also hit out at the late change with just over two weeks’ notice.
The fan body posted on Twitter: “More disruption for fans and not the first time this season the authorities have shown such little regard for matchgoing supporters.”
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and Arsenal Supporters’ Trust issued a joint statement on the rearrangement.
“It is totally unacceptable that with 18 days until the fixture, it has been announced that Arsenal v Chelsea will be postponed and re-arranged,” the supporter groups said.
“We are deeply disappointed that a confirmed fixture has been moved after both clubs, the broadcaster, the Safety Advisory Group, and the police had confirmed it. This is an insult to those supporters who are attending.
“This is not the first time that arbitrary and unaccountable decisions have been made by the police that adversely impact our clubs and supporters.
“This decision will create a major inconvenience to supporters who will have already made travel and accommodation arrangements and will negatively impact those supporters attending the fixture.
“The AST and CST call on the Premier League to provide a fuller explanation behind these issues. We will in turn take this matter to the Mayor of London who oversees the Metropolitan Police.
“Supporters are being treated with complete contempt.”