Arsenal will host Newcastle United in an 8pm kick-off on Saturday as part of the new rule designed to stop short European turnarounds.

Saturday will see three different kick-off slots despite no lunchtime kick-off, with four games starting at 3pm. There is then the 5.30pm game between Manchester City and Bournemouth. Arsenal and Newcastle then round out the day's programme.

The Gunners played at Porto on Wednesday night, losing to a late goal in their Champions League knockout tie. Managers and players have long bemoaned the short time between European and domestic commitments so a new rule has come in to protect welfare and the TV schedule.

It states that any club playing in European competition on a Wednesday night, like Arsenal, will not be allowed to play in the traditional 12:30pm Saturday kick-off slot and instead will play at 8pm on Saturday - which means that TNT Sports, who usually broadcast in that slot, will still be able to pick their preferred match every weekend.

Broadcasters would otherwise face restrictions on who they can and can’t pick based on UEFA’s scheduling, which often involves the league's biggest teams. The new rule therefore limits any unnecessary politics taking place.

Newcastle have twice had games this season moved to 8pm on a Saturday to accommodate this rule with their clash against Manchester City back in August and Manchester United at St James’ Park in early-December both being affected.

There will be a sense of revenge for the Gunners, who felt hard done by when they lost for the first time this season at St James' Park several months ago. Anthony Gordon scored a second-half winner with his striker surviving three separate VAR checks.

Mikel Arteta came out after the game and called the decision a "disgrace" and "embarrassing" as he took aim at the officials and VAR in several press conferences. Last term Newcastle also fought for a hard earned point in north London.

The Gunners will have seen both their rivals play by the the time they take to the pitch, which could leave them playing catch up in the title race. Newcastle meanwhile are ten points off fifth place, which could yet mean Champions League football next season.

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2024-02-24T09:35:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd