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How does Arsenal’s match-day experience compare to Chelsea’s?


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1400x931300-e1413810915113.jpgArsenal fans arrive outside the stadium before the Hull City game (Picture: Getty Images)

Bus, train, burger, ticket, seat, players in, #WengerOut – an infernal frustration I had never expected.

Just your average Arsenal match-day? Chelsea, take me back.

2-1 down to Hull City, 10 minutes left. ‘We’ll need a miracle,’ squeals a toddler several rows back. Even he has seen these shambles a thousand times before with Arsenal.

‘Just shooooot,’ a crustier voice blares at every man in red, barring Per Mertesacker. ‘Don’t try and be Brazilian.’ Was this the essence of the team’s trouble once again?

Looking on as an incognito Chelsea fan, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

We were only seven miles north-east of Stamford Bridge – home to the self-proclaimed pride of London, site of three Premier League title victories, shrine to the great Peter Osgood – and yet it felt like a different universe.

There was something space age and quite jealousy-inducing about the Emirates Stadium – home to the self-proclaimed pride of London, resembling a giant roofless flying saucer – although this had nothing to do with the football.

Arsenal’s spectacular architecture, padded chairs and ample leg room made their play no less painful viewing. You suspect that even occupiers of the club’s 150 corporate boxes had pins and needles as the Gunners struggled to supply a penetrating pass.

1400x931301.jpg?w=644&h=427&crop=1#038;hFans arrive outside the stadium in good spirits (Picture: Getty Images)

My nagging doubt about Chelsea ever moving to the modern spaceship stadium its status deserves is that the intense atmosphere might needlessly be sacrificed for trivial comfort, prawn cocktail circles and bar mitzvahs. I digress.

You could almost sympathise with the 50 thousand-plus home supporters, whose roars for the first goal and eventual equaliser against Hull put Chelsea fans to shame. The forwards specialised in agonising misses; defenders smacked of Brentford at the back.

But the dull silence in between Alexis Sánchez and Danny Welbeck’s strikes was more deafening than anything I’ve heard at the Bridge.

Arsenal nearly guilt-tripped me, surrounded by fans who pay the highest average price in England for their three o’clock fix (working out at £27.36 per league goal last season, compared to Chelsea’s £17.44) and truly appeared to be having the least fun.

Then things got ridiculous. By half-time, the odd boo rang round the Emirates – a dismal message for various future poster boys of English football. Shortly after the break, the entire East Stand were on their feet, wagging their arms at the referee like angry Popeyes. By the 80th minute, I heard people blaming the rain.

Poor, gloomy Gooners. Did no one tell them that Sunderland were 8-0 down at Southampton? Or that Tottenham Hotspur had lost 4-1 to Manchester City?

Admittedly, I had picked a singularly awful day for my Arsenal escapade; of course, most match-days must be better. The fact is, however, that at their very worst the Blues players and supporters still seem to put up a stronger fight.

I wonder whether that could make all the difference in the title race as we trickle out onto Holloway Road – a refreshing change from Fulham Broadway – and Arsenal fans stream into Michael’s Fish Bar: the only guarantee of a proper battering in these parts.

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