Emirates Cup 2014 Club Level
Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 9:16 PM
Last weekend saw the return of the Emirates Cup and this year I'd decided it would be worthwhile to splash the cash and watch both games from the comfort of Club Level for the first time.
Apart from the odd Twitter moan about corporate people in Club Level I've never really heard too much about it and what it offers during a normal match day so this seemed like the perfect time to try it out, especially at £39 a ticket, bargain!
On the day
After a fast train from Ebbsfleet to St. Pancras we made our way on the underground directly to Arsenal and from there walked the normal way crossing via the Ken Friar Bridge.
Unusually I had to take a second glance at the paper ticket to see where it was we actually entered the ground, "North Bank Club Level" this was new ... after a few seconds of looking we found the glass fronted entrance and began to que, I think the ground had only just opened so we'd timed it well.
Whilst in the queue we spotted some Emirates people giving out free hats and made sure to grab a few, can't beat a freebie!
The queue shortened and we were greeted into the entrance and through the smaller turnstiles to an escalator, wow! no stairs for us today, these regular Club Level members don't realize how good they have it ...
The ascent took us directly into the Royal Oak Food Court which unlike any regular Arsenal entry had carpets, seats, well presented fast food, bars and even free table football! I could get used to this on a match day.
We had a beer accompanied by the usual match day hot dog whilst watching the Arsenal fans walk across the bridge and past the museum as we discussed football news such as the Bale transfer and Arsenal's lack of any sort of signings so far ... before moving onto the free table football, I emphasise free because nothing's ever free!!
My table football team somehow conceded a few goals and didn't really fare too well, although I think they showed great mental awareness, we just lacked a little in the final third.
Having experienced some of the thrills of Club Level we thought it would now be a good time to take a look at our seats. The steward welcomed us into area 45 and told us where we'd find row 1 ... thanks, the seats were just above the corner flag and gave us perfect views of the pitch, certainly justified paying that little bit more!
We watched the players warm up for 5 minutes or so before the first match between Galatasaray and FC Porto kicked off. There were a few old faces in the Galatasaray team including Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.
The matched kicked off and truthfully the first half at least was quite tame, the only real highlights were the missed and scored penalties, although there were so many penalties over the weekend I've kind of forgotten which ones were actually scored.
After the first match ended we made our way to 49ers bar for another pint and burger, although sadly these food and beer purchases at the exceptionally high prices had now almost bankrupted us ... but if it funds the transfer for Suarez then so be it.
We returned to our seats to watch the second game between Arsenal and Napoli, it'd been a long time since I last saw Arsenal and I was pretty excited to see the team back in action!
Disappointingly it wasn't long before we were two nil down and I remembered how painful watching Arsenal actually was...
The first scorer for Napoli was the young Insigne, if you've never heard of him then you've not played enough Fifa because he's one of the quickest players in the whole 2013 game and a silver in Ultimate Team, well worth a purchase.
It wasn't that we weren't playing well but each time Napoli attacked they managed to make some slick moves and just work their way through and score, two shots, two goals.
Things did get better though and some substitutions to bring on the big guns did get things a bit more fired up, chances were now abundant and it wasn't before long that we managed to pull one back as Giroud scored a lovely half bicycle kick type goal.
The further the game progressed the better we looked going forward, it wasn't till the last 5 minutes that we managed to equalise with a Koscielny header but it was nice to see the team really try and push on for that winner, which did come very close but just not close enough.
Overall a good performance from Arsenal in their first home match of the 2013/2014 season. It is however clear that in some areas we do lack a little and that signings are needed/vital.
Leaving the ground was pretty simple, there was a small queue to get out but nothing like the usual. One certain positive of club level is the bars and restaurants staying open after the final whistle, why can't they do this in all levels of the stadium? Would certainly help to calm the rush to the tube stations if people could stay for a short while, even only 30 minutes to have another beer and watch the game highlights?
I have to say I did really enjoy my experience of Club Level, on this occasion the fans that sat with me sang along and joined in, albeit the wrong words (infuriating) and there weren't too many of the corporate kinds (prawns?!) around. I'd certainly like to return in the future and would consider joining the season ticket waiting list but the prices are just a little too high for me right now, think I'll stick to paying off the relentless student debt whilst being a regular red member and dream of Club Level luxury in the future.
Written by Dan