Catching Arsenal at The Emirates

While trying to convince Michael to go to London in September, I coaxed him with an Arsenal game.  They are his favorite team and happened to be playing on my birthday, classic case of kismet.  So, I found good seats to the game and the London portion of our Eurotrip was booked!

I had been to Wembley and Croke Park previously, but this was a big departure from either of those stadiums.  The Emirates, home to Arsenal FC, is incredible.  Its an easy tube ride about 30 minutes outside the city center. We started the evening by going to The Gunners bar, just down the block from the original stadium, which is now an apartment complex called Highbury Square.  The bar was really cool to walk around and see the memorabilia gathered through the years.  A few G&Ts later, we headed over to The Emirates with new friends.

Walking up to the stadium was such a spectacle for me.  We went to a night time game so to see the red lights blaring into the night sky, paired with all of the fans on a fast buzz after work was electric. Where we walked up was the opposite side of our entry gate, which I liked because we got to see the whole plaza. I will say one thing about entering, there are far more male attendants for security than female. I waited in a line about 10 ladies deep to get through the gates.

Coming from the States, we are used to going to our seats with a few drinks, but not here.  No alcohol is allowed in the bowl, which is probably for the best.  Carlsberg seems to be the most popular beer in these stadiums, so we grabbed a few to have while walking around.  I find it hysterical to see how many fans double and triple fist to get a good buzz on before sitting.  Can’t say I blame them since I was doing the same thing.

Our seats were in one of the end zones, which is okay in football but not great for soccer.  The first half Arsenal’s goal was in our end zone, so we got to see them score and celebrate right in front of us – so fun.  Just before the half I snuck out of our row to hit the loo and grab a few beers for halftime.  PSA – the lines are nuts during halftime!

I’ve said it before in other posts, but there really is just something to the passion these fans feel for their teams.  You can’t even call them fans really because they believe they are part of the team.  The history over here for these sports goes back so much further than anything we have in America. Its truly generations and generations of supporters, which is fantastic.

Beware of leaving the game though.  Arsenal was up so we ducked out a few minutes early but the masses had the same idea and tube lines were unreal.  I can only imagine what it would be like if they had lost… Yikes. I didn’t know any of the players, or any of the songs, but it was one of the most fun games I’ve ever experienced.  If you go to Europe and there is a soccer game, definitely, definitely go catch it.

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