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EPL: Blackburn Rovers at Arsenal

5 October 2009 No Comment

My flight from Helsinki was on time and we landed shortly before 9:10 am. In order to meet the Arsenal boys for brunch I hopped on the underground from Heathrow and got off at the Charing Cross tube stop.

Pre Game Dining
Breakfast was scheduled for 10:45 am at the National Gallery Restaurant by Trafalgar Square. I arrived on time as more Arsenal boys showed up in the subsequent minutes. Breakfast was a much better experience than lunch two weeks ago.

Doubleheader Possibility
During breakfast we discussed the possibility of attending both the Arsenal and Chelsea matches that day. In fact, there were actually three EPL games in London on Sunday. West Ham United’s match was moved from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate Fulham’s Europa League match that I attended on Thursday night.

My original plan had been to attend both the Arsenal and Chelsea doubleheader on Sunday. However, multiple risks caused me to rethink this strategy.

1) Ticket Availability: Chelsea’s match was not just any match. It was versus Liverpool – a touch ticket to buy. By the time I arrived at Stamford Bridge there may not be any tickets available. Plus I already used up all of my “Chelsea luck” when I arrived late and got a free ticket to the match versus Tottenham.
2) Cost: Chelsea’s match was versus Liverpool and I did not have a ticket already. Todd, who I attended the Fulham game with Thursday night, stated that tickets on craiglist.org were hovering around £100 for the match. A price that was too high considering I was already attending the Arsenal match. If it was the only match of the day I would never let me price deter me.
3) Arsenal Boys: In my two EPL matches at the Emirates I was unable to go out after the game. This time I had all night to hang out. I decided I would have a much better time hanging out with the Arsenal boys after the game in one of the pubs by Emirates Stadium than going to the Chelsea match
4) Timing: As already stated the Arsenal match started at 1:30 pm – meaning the earliest the game would be over would be 3:15 pm. Chelsea’s match with Liverpool kicked off at 4 pm so there would be a maximum of 45 minutes to get from Arsenal to Chelsea. In order to get there I would need to either:

A) Find a cab immediately after the Arsenal match ended – estimated cost £25 to £30. But trying to find a taxi around Emirates Stadium as 60,000 people are leaving would not be easy.
B) Leave a few minutes early and hope the tube (describe route) would get you there on time.

Leaving Early
In either case, I would most likely need to leave the Arsenal match early or arrive to Chelsea late – a no-no for the Ultimate Sports Fan. While I agree with leaving games early, I do not agree with leaving one game early to get to another game. The reason I agree with leaving games early is that you may have a prior obligation such as dinner with the wife and/or family or another high priority engagement that does not allow you to attend the entire game. I feel attending and leaving early is more important than not attending at all.

In the end the final whistle was not blown until 3:25 pm – meaning there was only 35 minutes to get to Stamford Bridge – most likely an impossible feat.

The Game
Arsenal started out slowly, falling behind to Blackburn 1-0 in the 4th minute and 2-1 in the 30th minute. However, Arsenal scored five unanswered goals to defeat Blackburn 6-2 in the highest scoring game I have seen all trip. The fans were abuzz with the fact that Thierry Henry was in attendance at Emirates Stadium.

Post Game “Dining”
I use “dining” because as I wrote about my experience in Scotland is that I now understand why the Gastropub was invented in the United Kingdom. Some of the pubs around the stadiums do not have any food – only chips. This was the case Sunday afternoon as we went out after the game. The first pub we went to was The Bailey located at 81 Holloway Road. We watched the Chelsea/Liverpool match there before heading to The Compton Arm located at 4 Compton Ave. to meet the other Arsenal boys.

After staying in the pubs for a few hours, Big Chris and I took a cab back to his place. We went back to Kennington Tandoori – the Indian restaurant we ate at my first night of the trip. If you like Indian food, then be sure to dine at one of the many Indian restaurants in London.

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