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Vitoria v Arsenal: Why is the Europa League match on Wednesday?

The Gunners’ Group F clash with Vitoria has been switched to the unusual time of 3.50pm on Wednesday.

Two weeks after Nicolas Pepe rescued Arsenal with two late free-kicks against Vitoria, last season’s runners-up travel to Guimarães for the away tie against the Primeira Liga side on Matchday 4 of the Europa League.

Europa League games are usually played at 5.55pm or 8pm on Thursdays, but Vitoria v Arsenal will kick off at the unusual time of 3.50pm on Wednesday.

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Fellow Portuguese side Braga, whose Municipal Stadium is approximately 10 kilometres away from Vitoria’s Estádio D. Afonso Henriques, host Turkish giants Besiktas on Thursday and Uefa rules stipulate that two teams from the same region cannot play their home games on the same date.

They also state that, for broadcasting purposes, Europa League matches can’t clash with the Champions League.

Therefore, Uefa has moved the match to 3.50pm on Wednesday so it’s not on the same day as Braga’s home match and it doesn’t clash with Bayern Munich v Olympiakos or Lokomotiv Moscow v Juventus in the Champions League.

The earlier kick off time is also expected to increase fan safety and reduce congestion in the area.

Vitoria’s Matchday 5 clash with Standard Liege will also take place on a Wednesday (November 27).

Unai Emery’s side have a 100% record in Group F and they can seal their qualification for the last 32 with a win in Portugal.

Vitoria are rock bottom after losing all three of their games but they proved their pedigree at the Emirates when they gave the Gunners an almighty scare on Matchday 3.

They led 2-1 in North London when Pepe was introduced in the 75th minute courtesy of goals from former Tottenham youngster Marcus Edwards and Bruno Duarte.

Pepe’s heroics spared the Gunners’ blushes, but with pressure building on Emery after three games without a win, Arsenal must adapt to the bizarre kick off time and produce a convincing performance on the road to silence their critics.

Watch Vitoria v Arsenal from 3.30pm on BT Sport 2 and online on Wednesday 6 November. If you’re not a subscriber, we can get you set up in 15 minutes right here!

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