London has a fair number of famous sporting grounds and events - Lords Cricket Ground, Wimbledon and Wembley are just a few of these. But the first one I visited was the home of my favourite football club in the English Premier League. Arsenal moved to their new Emirates stadium a few years back from their previous home at Highbury, and it was this ground I visited in late October to watch them play Bolton Wanderers in the Carling Cup.
The Carling Cup is one of the 4 trophies that clubs in the top tier of English club football play for, but it is generally considered as less important than the others - the FA Cup, the League and the Champions League. As such, it is used by leading clubs, including Arsenal, as a testing ground for young talent who might not always play in the Premier League. Also, possibly because of this, the ticket prices are usually lower than what it would cost to watch a Premier League or Champions League match.
The build up to the game starts as one gets closer to the ground in North London, with crowds of supporters dressed in the club's colours of red and white making their way to the stadium. The atmosphere continued to build up as I entered the stadium and made my way to my seat high up in the stands. Emirates is a big stadium, with tiers of stands that can accommodate upwards of 60,000 fans. The stadium was not full for the match, but the official attendance for the game was about 48,000, and it made for a great atmosphere.
The game itself was a good game, if not terribly exciting, with Arsenal winning 2-1, thanks to a couple of good goals from Andrey Arshavin and Park Chu-Young.