Outside of games being played, for me the most exciting football related events are the early draws of any cup competitions we are in.
Last week we had two in as many days. Leading up to these, I start to take an interest in the previous round matches for possible opponents.
As I’ve seen an Arsenal team play at 81 of the current 92 grounds, studying the winners of the 2nd Round meant that Oxford United was the only away ground which was new to me.
Whilst I’ve seen our Women’s, Reserve and Youth teams play at Brentford, believe it or not, I’m not old enough to have seen the first team play there! Sadly it was a home draw as I’d like to have visited Griffin Park before it closes down. At least it’s a home draw against lower league opposition.
Fridays Europa League draw was everything Thursday’s wasn’t; a new country to visit, Two new cities & Three new grounds.
After the draw, my priority was to book the Lisbon trip first as I know this was the one the masses will go to. After waiting over 3 hours after the draw, I managed to get hold of the fixtures about 45 minutes before Arsenal published them and therefore got a decent deal.
By the time I booked the Azerbaijan flight, I was running late to get to the Emirates to watch our U23 match against our Middlesex/Buckinghamshire nomadic rivals.
The match itself was a 2-1 Win, we should have won 6 or 7 nil but poor finishing and decent goalkeeping kept it at 2-0 including a missed penalty, before they scored a consolation goal in the final seconds.
They had a segregated section and sold about half of their 500 ticket allocation, their scummy fans proved yet again why they are hated by most of Southern England and many teams in the North; singing a vile song about celebrating Sol Campbell once he has departed, sums up those horrible w**kers.
Saturday saw a trip to Chelsea’s Cobham Training Ground which resulted in the U18s losing our first match of the season 3-1. It was good to see Per Mertesacker watching his U16 team play who also lost.
After a Two drive back to North London, with my other half out, I spent most of my time in front of a computer looking at hotels and flights for the Europa League.
I was up at 5:30am on Sunday for the trip to South Wales, once showered I looked on social media to be told that my 08:30 train was cancelled!
After contacting my crowd, we decided that rather that catch the 09:33 train which would be packed, we would get an 8am train to Bristol. To cut a long story short after waiting at Reading for over an hour, we joined the 09:33 at Swindon, arriving in Cardiff after a 4 hour journey just before midday.
We still managed a couple of pints in the City Centre, then off to the match.
I sit in the West Stand Upper Tier at the Emirates which is great for getting an overview of formations but I cannot see either ‘bench’ therefore at away matches I tend to often glance at our bench to see what is going on.
A couple of things I did notice was that Unai Emery had a proper ‘in your face’ go at Warnock following one of many vicious assaults on our players and also following the 3 substitutions, two of our substituted players went down the line giving a ‘high five’ to all the players and staff, whilst one slumped into his seat and sulked, no prizes for which player I’m referring to!
Despite the opponents tactics and inept refereeing, the result was a fair one, our midfield and forwards played well together, whilst the defence still has lots of work needed.
Back in the pub, it’s always satisfying when your team win whatever the performance, then we had the icing on the cake watching a fine Watford win.
As it’s International week, there’s no football to be had, I will be at the Emirates on Saturday for the Legends match against Real Madrid, there’s still tickets available for what promises to be a great day out.