Rather than drone on about how bad Arsenal were against Chelsea, I thought I’d give an account of my day at the stadium.
It’s been 17 long months since there has been a ‘full’ Emirates stadium. I managed to get to a game in December against Vienna. That occasion was a surreal experience sitting 3 seats from any other fans, only topped by having to order a ‘substantial meal’ with my beer that same day.
I passed up the chance of a beer pre-match and headed straight to the ground. The fans in general were in a boisterous mood aided by alcohol and a variety of other substances.
Those of us with season tickets will be aware of the new entry requirements to the Stadium with a new card and/or an App on the phone. I decided to bring both as my experience of dealing with Arsenal’s website and customer service department is akin to drinking petrol…not pleasant.
We were funneled along some queues where coats and bags were checked before getting to the concourse around the stadium. This seemed to work well as the usual queues at the turnstiles were a lot shorter than in pre-covid times. There were a few hold ups at the entrance as there were some Apps that didn’t work, but I got inside the stadium pretty quickly. The bar areas were packed, and the Arsenal fans were in good voice. I went into the seating area, took up my place and caught up with a number of familiar faces.
I would say that the Stadium was two thirds full. I know several people that have caught Covid recently so couldn’t make the game or were understandably reluctant to come along. Others are on holiday and more didn’t fancy it for reasons of their own. The game didn’t sell out, which meant season ticket holders were unable to put their tickets on the ticket exchange. Considering this was the first full capacity game in the stadium for some time and we were playing a traditional rival from London it speaks volumes of where Arsenal are at the moment. Many fans can’t be bothered to watch a team that has declined a long way from the previous highs of the early 2000s. This is natural, but it must make the powers that be nervous.
At the start of the game the sun was shining, and the fans were making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind the clouds, the heavens opened, and it didn’t stop pouring for about 30 minutes.
Near where I sit in the North Bank there was a broken gutter high up on the Stadium roof, which meant that bucket-loads of water tipped down on some unsuspecting fans below. This isn’t a cattle shed or Stamford Bridge in the 80s, it’s not a good look. It was interesting to note that the Stadium looked a bit washed out. The seats and murals have become sun-bleached like a lot of the cheap seats in a US Baseball Park. Considering the Stadium is only 15 years old it looks a bit jaded. Just like the team really.
You know what happened in the game, so no need for further analysis here. The fans dripped away as they tend to do at Arsenal leaving a half empty stadium at the final whistle.
The crowds outside trudged along slowly towards Arsenal tube and the other destinations. A few half-witted Chelsea fans (are there any that aren’t half-witted?) aggressively chanted their way down the road, then disappeared in another direction.
My group visited a few local hostelries. The atmosphere was upbeat in these pubs. The Arsenal fans know that the team is in bad state and will tolerate the poor fare on offer for a while before things turn toxic. Lose at home to Norwich and the mood could change quickly.
I really enjoyed my day out. It’s been a long journey to get back to full stadiums. I think most fans in attendance enjoyed the novelty of watching a game in person. Here’s hoping this carries on…
Up the Arsenal! Courtesy of: Pete the Thirst