I visited the Emirates this week. Something in my DNA drew me to the stadium. I just had to get off the train at Drayton Park and walk the familiar streets to the ground just to be there. The massive concourse around the stadium was eerily empty and silent, but today it will be alive again, heaving with the throng of 60,000 excited football supporters.
The Emirates Cup is an opportunity for many Gooners, young and old who don’t have season tickets, to get inside the ground and experience the atmosphere. Countless numbers of photographs will be taken with the pitch as a backdrop, or framed against the huge Arsenal crests that adorn the outside of the stadium.
I am fortunate, I get to go to every game, but I really enjoy the fact that there will be so many enthralled children in the crowd over these two days – it is a brilliant means of recruiting the next generation of gooners. I know the cynics will say its just a money making exercise, but for those children and adults dressed in their kit with their name or the name of their hero on their back, it is a really special occassion.
For us ‘regulars’, there is the comforting feeling of knowing you’re home again when you take to your seat for the first time after so many weeks away. Though we won’t be surrounded by the familiar faces to which you’ve become accustomed in Premiership games, all these people have come to cheer on the team that wear the Red and White of Arsenal. Additionally, although the tournament means nothing, it will be reassuring to witness our boys wearing the great new home kit which echoes the style of our glorious past.
Unfortunately, because of the World Cup, we’ll still be missing several players so I’m not even going to guess how the team will line up. Will any questions be answered about who is going to have the no1 shirt or who will partner Thomas Vermaelen at the back? – I doubt it.
These issues have been foremost in our minds all summer and it looks like we’ve still got some way to go before we discover the answers. I’m seething at the thought that we may have let Sol Campbell go for the sake of a few thousand pounds a week and that Silvestre could yet end up wearing an Arsenal shirt for another season if we fail to find the 4th centre back Arsène has said we need.
Last year Rasp and I laughed at how Eboué grabbed the trophy and paraded it around the pitch as if he’d won the World Cup. The rest of the team looked on slightly sheepishly, realising that this trophy would mean zilch if it wasn’t followed by a couple of others in the season to come.
So here we all stand again looking forward to the season ahead. The Emirates Cup in our trophy cabinet is not enough Arsène but you don’t need me to tell you that. If you’re going to the Arsenal this weekend, enjoy it, it’ll be the last stress free game until this time next year.
Come on you Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeds