On Tuesday night I went to watch the Arsenal play Reading in the Football League Cup (the cup that is officially so uninspiring it hasn’t attracted a sponsor this season).
I was out of the country when Arsenal beat Robin Hood Athletic away and what with the hectic schedule of work and domestic bliss I kind of forgot to take much notice of the next round tie. So I didn’t get round to booking my own seat for the Reading game. By the time I tried to they had sold it and so I had to go on general sale with the hoi polloi.
This was ok though as I thought I’d get a seat upstairs near where Tony sits (not, at that time, knowing that TA wasn’t planning on attending this fixture). No matter, I purchased a £20 seat in block 110 upper tier, row 7. I was in line with the six yard line, able to view my ST space from above. Sorted.
So on Tuesday night, having worked from home for a change, I made my leisurely way to the Emirates on my tod (Tony, did I mention, choosing to sit this one out in his splendid pile in the East Midlands). I got to the ground at 7.15 ridiculously early it turned out, and made my way upstairs.
Tony must be very fit from all that jiving because it kills me climbing the stairs to upper tier. Anyway, I took my seat and observed proceedings.
This game was billed as a ‘Junior Gunners Take-over’. Which meant that they had selected a handful of young fans to do the jobs necessary to make ‘matchday’ happen. So there was a young girl organising things (with a clipboard), a lad on the pitch with the ground staff, someone laying out the kit, a social media youth…well you get the idea. But the star of the show was Dan.
Dan was an 8 year old who had been selected to do the match day presenter’s role. Now this is Nigel who I can never really hear in the North Bank lower. But Dan could be heard upstairs, downstairs and probably in Aleppo. I kid you not, this young man will go far. He ace’d his role and showed us that if he was overwhelmed by holding a mike in front of 50,000 (more or less) people, he certainly wasn’t going to show it.
Go Dan go!
I liked the fact that the Junior Gunners Takeover seemed to extend to the first team; this was quite a young looking squad. Gibbs was captain, and the Ox was the most senior (in terms of games played) but there were places for Maitland-Niles, Emie Martinez, and Willocks (on the bench at least).
If I can return to Tony’s article of a few days ago I’d like to complain LOUDLY about crowd behaviour. It was pretty quiet. But then it wasn’t a great game and Reading were awful. Really poor and never really a threat. Their fans were even worse. I hardly heard a peep out of them all game and not a whisper before the 44th minute.
and they had nearly ALL OF THE CLOCK END ffs.
But I would direct my main ire at the home fans in the upper tier. Is it really too difficult to get in on time? a few minutes after KO might be unavoidable given transport problems and the renewed security, but TWENTY MINUTES LATE? Really?
But once in many people contented themselves with taking ‘selfies’, filming THE ENTIRE MATCH, standing up to express their hatred of Tottenham (the only time they ‘sang’ anything), or leaving early for HT or TEN MINUTES before the end of the game. Next time please go and watch someone or something else and leave us to our football.
The game was hardly sold out if the rows of empty seats was anything to go by. I’d estimate 50k tops. But still there were touts outside the tube. How does that work? Surely you could have got a legitimate ticket from the box office? And why is no one doing anything about these touts?
To return to the youthful theme I was flanked by two young fans – one at least on his first visit. Behind me a sage young 10 year old offered a running commentary on the game. He passed comment on Arsene’s team selection, the formation, the necessary of switching the play more quickly, and a range of other things. This mini expert sounded like he’d be coming to the Arsenal for 30 plus years, not 1 or 2.
On my right was quite a different youth. Aged maybe 8 (like Dan the man) he simply shouted ‘SHOOT!’ at every opportunity (not unlike many grown men who stand near me in the NBL to be honest). But most of the time this made no reference to the game at all. So he called SHOOT when a player was just over the halfway line; or by the corner flag; or when they didn’t have the ball! He has lots to learn.
But at least these two (and many of the other JGs there) were involved and engaged, they participated rather than turning up late and leaving early, giving sweet FA in terms of ‘support’. What a waste of their time and money.
So, to the game (in brief because I’m sure Walter covered it better than me).
The view from the upper tier is AMAZING much better than from my usual seat. I could see Gibbs getting left for dead because of poor positioning on occasion. Or Maitland-Niles trying just too hard to impress with a couple of flicks that gave away possession. Overall he did very well, just a tad casual at time.
Perez should have scored and needs to be more ruthless and selfish but his movement is great. Ollie was unlucky not to score with what was almost his first touch (el Habsi saved brilliantly). Jenkinson did well but perhaps not as well as some seem to think he did. He did make an amazing recovery, running back from the halfway line to execute a saving tackle in the box. But he had gone down too easily for me, and stayed down hoping for the foul (or for the ref to stop play) when getting up straight away would have possibly stopped a rare Reading attack.
Ox took his goals very well but we should have had FIVE at least. Iwobi was guilty of a terrible miscue. But it didn’t matter in the end, we won.
For me the stand out performance was Rob Holding’s. He was steadfast at the back, better than Gabriel in my opinion and on several occasions he took control and carried the ball out of his own half, driving the team forward. Like Arseblog I will not get too excited about a young player till he’s played a few more games but he looks like a real find. Tony Adams with ball skills maybe. Maybe.
So in the end I enjoyed my night out but not as much as games with Mr A. The upper tier was interesting but its not as much fun as the rowdy atmosphere of the north bank. One day I might gravitate to the ‘posh seats’ but not just yet. For now I’ll continue to suffer the relative discomfort of the cheap seats.
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