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The Phoenix Rising From The Ashes: Arsenal's Emirates Stadium

In the continuing series that explores my recent trip to England to watch top flight football, we take a look at my visit to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium:

It’s not often that the outside of ground looks just as attractive as the inside, but Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (or Ashburton Grove as many prefer to call it) is magnificent. It’s the type of stadium, inside and out, that’s flawless both to the eye and to how well it was designed.

I visited the Emirates for the first time in late November for Arsenal’s crucial match against Hamburg in the Champions League. Since that time, Hamburg’s form has plummeted, but the side at that time were playing very decent football.

Walking through the streets of Islington and toward the Emirates, it seemed like any old match. But when my cousin and I went to our seats, we could instantly tell that the atmosphere was very different and much more vocal. Part of the reason was because we were sitting immediately above the away supporters nestled into the corner of the ground. In the five matches I went to in England, the Hamburg supporters were the loudest of them all (home or away).

The stadium itself is perfection. Each seat is large and padded and there isn’t a bad seat in the ground. The sightlines are also impressive with no obstructed view of the pitch. If an architect was summoned to design a perfect stadium with a capacity of 60,000, I don’t think it would look much different than the Emirates.

Once the Champions League theme song played and the match prepared to kick off, the atmosphere increased even more. The choreographed Hamburg fans were a sight to see, all singing and swaying in unison and throwing insults at the neighboring Arsenal fans.

The match, meanwhile, was very similar to Arsenal’s form of late. They let in an early goal, but then proceeded to come back and win the match late.

While what happened on the pitch is history, inside the stadium it was an uplifting experience. If you get a chance to visit London and there’s a match at the Emirates, don’t hesitate to go.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Colm

    February 14, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Do you know that the design for The Emirates was taken from Croke Park in Dublin? The Emirates stadium is a smaller version of Croke Park which holds over 82000 spectators. Watch for the similarity in the rugby when Ireland plays England at Croke Park.
    Colm from Dublin.

  2. Susan

    February 14, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I saw the Portsmouth game at the Emirates in mid-December and was surprised at how well I could see the pitch from a seat in the upper corner. Loved the intensity of the supporters. The atmosphere was electric but probably less so than the CL match you were lucky enough to attend. Yes, it’s a gorgeous new stadium, but I don’t have much to compare it with in England–just Stamford Bridge. I’d love to visit an older, smaller, super-traditional place–the Wrigley Field/Fenway Park of English football. Maybe next time.

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