I was lucky enough to accompany Norman Junior to the Emirates Stadium yesterday to see Arsenal thrash Sunderland 3-2. An ex-colleague has two season tickets (Section C, Row 4) and kindly offered them to me.
Although Arsenal aren’t my team, it was still great to go and see a match as opposed to my usual viewpoint perched on my barstool.
The Emirates Stadium is really impressive. The view for all spectators is superb, there is plenty of legroom and the seats are actually padded.
We had a brilliant view from row 4 in the Arsenal ’end’ and we watched the Arsenal goalies warming up. Bizarrely, Arsenal fans derive a disproportionate amount lot of pleasure simply from spotting their mates in another section of the ground.
As always, Sunderland brought an impressive, loyal and vocal support for an away fixture which the FA had helpfully scheduled for a 12 noon kick-off on Sunday.
The game got underway and Arsenal started impressively, stroking the ball around. Arsenal created early chances at will and deservedly took the lead after just 7 minutes when van Persie rocketed a free kick in off the underside of the cross bar.
Sunderland were still chasing shadows and Arsenal doubled the lead after 15 minutes when Phillipe Senderos managed to wrong-foot Craig Gordon. While the two early goals made for a decent atmosphere (‘You’re just a small town in Scotland’), I was starting to fear the worst for Roy Keane’s Sunderland.
The onslaught continued and the unfortunate Diaby had another goal ruled out for offside. He had also netted just after the award of the free kick for the opening goal.
Thankfully, against the run of play, somehow Sunderland managed to conjure a goal out of nothing before half-time when Almunia (dodgy dyed hair) blocked a shot which fell nicely for Wallace who scored.
Urged on by the tremendous away support, unbelievably Sunderland equalised early in the second half when a powerful Jones header squirmed under Almunia’s (dodgy keeper) body into the net.
Arsenal increased the tempo to regain the lead and maintain their lead at the top of the table. The Arsenal fans started to get restless. Toure nearly broke a post with a powerful drive from 30 yards. The young, pacy Theo Walcot came on as substitute and also struck the woodwork.
Unfortunately, just when I thought Sunderland might hang on for a point, Robin van Persie latched on to a Walcott cross with a quick finish to ensure justice was done.
Having just recovered from Noble’s recent assault at West Ham, Alexander Hleb was caught by a late, late challenge which earned McShane a red card and prompted a rare spark of humour from the Arsenal fans (‘just like your manager’).
Pictures from a prawn sandwich munching, day tripper.