Ah the Emirates Stadium. Beautiful isn’t it? A 60,000 all seater towering monument to the club’s achievements over the last decade or so. But how to get there, where to eat and Goddamnit, where to drink? Worry not fair reader, COTA has your back with a fan eyed view of the perfect day out
Pretty much the most important thing to know – everything else about your day rather falls into place from here. So, here goes:
Train and tube: The club is brilliantly served by a number of train and tube stations within walking distance. Indubitably the closest is Arsenal tube station (Piccadilly Line), seated a mere couple of hundred metres from the Stadium. Yet closest inevitably = busiest, and rather bypasses North London’s finest eateries and pre-match watering holes.
So for those who wish to avoid the exorbitantly priced plastic hotdogs/pizza slices inside the ground, or wish to enjoy their pre-match pint in more charming surroundings than a concrete concourse we recommend the almost as close Finsbury Park (Piccadilly and Victoria lines/ national rail) or Highbury & Islington (Victoria line/North London line/ National Rail). Each is a mere 10 minute walk from the ground – simply follow the massive crowds of people to find the stadium – and awash with enough pubs, cafes and takeaways to satisfy the atmosphere hungry punter.
King’s Cross serves as the best hub to reach the above.
So which to choose? Initially this will largely depend on convenience, Finsbury park slightly north of the stadium and Highbury and Islington slightly south, but will eventually take into account anything from favourite pub to best street vendors, so scoot on down below for our recommendations.
Car: Basically, don’t. It’s an absolute clusterfuck trying to find a good parking space and usually a criminal rip-off. Plus you can’t drink can you silly? If you must, check out this guide to parking restrictions from the local council:
If anything that should just reinforce the point – it’s a nightmare.
In the ground
Best seating: The stadium is brilliantly designed to provide a pretty excellent view from almost everywhere, so a few brief points will suffice.
Most importantly, Upper or Lower tier? As the picture above goes to show the view from up top is magnificent – no chance of a blind spot wiping out your view of that latest Van Persie screamer – and an immense vantage point to see even the runs that Cesc can’t.
But the atmosphere up top is, well, rubbish. It’s hardly crackling downstairs but its a fair whack more noisy down there. Besides that closeness to the pitch and the players really gives you that live match feeling and buzz. If you can ever manage getting close, the northwest corner to the left of the dugouts has by some way the best atmosphere, but seats close to those prized season ticket spots are hard to come by. Otherwise, avoid the very front rows where possible. It’s not quite like being behind a pillar in the old East Stand, but its really not ideal being almost below the playing surface.
Food: About £3.50 a pop for a rubbish hotdog or pizza slice. Unless you have the appetite of King Kong and need to eat before, during and after the game, don’t bother
Drink: Nothing at all wrong with the beer, again about £3.50 for a pint of Foster’s or John Smiths, but of course you can’t drink in your seats, so are restricted to the rather dull concrete concourses. There is though plenty of screens on offer to keep up with the early kickoff on sky or check out the line-ups on Sky Sports News, but all this and more is available in all the pubs around. NB there is no beer served in the ground on Champions League nights according to UEFA rules
Toilets: Plentiful and clean, a mere few seconds walk from pretty much anywhere on the main concourse.
Card carrying member that’s forgotten to print off your seating location? Never fear, simply take your card to the nearest turnstile. A nearby steward will be able to scan your card and print off your location for the day. Sorted.
A big plus on a day out, especially for the youngsters. 3 major shops exist around the ground: at Finsbury Park station (with adjoining print shop), ‘All Arsenal’ by the north east bridge into the stadium and the flagship ‘Armoury’ store located at the South West corner of the stadium.
Precise locations and opening hours can be found on the official website here: http://www.arsenal.com/emirates-stadium/arsenal-shopping
Best pubs/food etc:
Before reading this please note that your match day experience is a very personal one. For each friend I’ve recommended these locations to I’ve had another look in wide-eyed shock that I’ve missed out X location at the complete opposite end of the ground.
So mine are based on the short walk from Finsbury park to the ground. Anyone shocked that I’ve missed anything out, or keen to recommend the best haunts on other routes please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on one of our main posts
The Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park: Just a minute’s walk down the Seven Sister’s Road from Finsbury Park station, this a prime pre-match location. Rammed on match days, with a great atmosphere and numerous screens to watch on away days or cheer on whoever is playing Sp*rs.
The Auld Triangle, St Thomas’ Road: Located pretty much halfway between Finsbury Park and the ground. Ignore this review, its fucking great. Again plenty of big screens to keep up with what’s going on around the league. Plus no confusion on price, pretty much everything costs exactly 3 quid, whether it be a pint of beer or a pint of coke.
The Drayton Arms: Incredibly close to the ground, directly opposite the south east bridge to the ground and thus often packed with away fans. Which, on occasions which don’t welcome undesirables from Chelsea, Manchester or Shite Hart Lane can actually be quite good fun.
The Quality Fish bar, Finsbury Park: Opposite the train station. It’s easy to spot, just look for the massive queue out of the door and almost round the corner. Which tells you all you need to know. Excellent fish and chips, and indoor seating for those arriving early enough. Top fry-up too.
Stalls: Keep your eyes peeled for Curry in a Hurry and the excellent sweet vendors offering any two packs for a quid. Great way to shut up the kids, or easily amused grown ups.