Arsenal are flying high in the Premier League and can extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points with a win over opponents Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Following the heartache of elimination from the Europa League on penalties in midweek, the Gunners can bounce back and have a great opportunity to strengthen their position domestically, with rivals Manchester City busy with FA Cup action. Every point will count between now and the season finale, particularly with a mouth-watering clash between the two title hopefuls at the Etihad Stadium on April 26 to come.
A home clash with relegation battlers Palace has arguably been made more complicated for Arsenal this week, though, after the Eagles sacked their manager, former Gunners captain Patrick Vieira. Despite being on a run of 12 games without a win, Palace will hope Vieira’s dismissal will spark a reaction from the players in what could be a potential banana skin for the league leaders.
But with plenty at stake, why isn’t the game on TV?
Well it seems Sky Sports’ Super Sunday has fallen victim to the FA Cup again, after their two chosen fixtures originally selected for broadcast were rearranged.
Sky Sports had initially planned to cover Brighton’s meeting with Manchester United at the Amex Stadium on Sunday, followed by Manchester City’s clash with West Ham in the prime-time late afternoon slot.
But due to Brighton, Man City and Man Utd all making it through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, their respective Premier League fixtures have been rearranged, while West Ham do not have a match scheduled for this weekend.
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As a result of the changes, Sky Sports have been left without a Premier League game to cover, even though Arsenal’s match with Crystal Palace kicks off at 2pm and will not be televised.
The three fixtures taking place in the FA Cup on Sunday – Sheffield United vs Blackburn, Brighton vs Grimsby and Man Utd vs Fulham, are all being shown on terrestrial channels BBC and ITV as they have the rights to the competition.
It is a blow for Sky Sports, as well as UK-based Arsenal fans, who will have to wait until late on Sunday evening to catch highlights if they do not have a ticket to watch the game live.
Match of the Day 2 will be showing highlights from 10:30pm, while Sky Sports will have extended highlights available to watch from 10pm.
It adds to the debate around the TV scheduling this season, with fans continuing to question why the 3pm blackout is still in place on Saturday afternoons. The UK is one of just a few countries still abiding by Article 48 of UEFA’s statute which allows a ban on live television coverage during a two-and-a-half hour window of the league’s choice.
Premier League chief Richard Masters admitted earlier this month that the rule was not likely to change anytime soon, though that still does not explain why Sky Sports cannot amend the fixtures they cover at short notice when their initial choices are rescheduled.