Situated in Holloway, north London, right around the corner from where old ground Highbury once stood, the Emirates has been home to Arsenal Football Club since it opened in 2006.
One of the biggest stadiums in the country the Emirates has shown itself capable of generating great atmospheres, especially on European nights, however as the club began to slip from title contenders to top-six hopefuls so did the crowd noise.
A huge, gaping venue, the Emirates has been well received not just like the home of Arsenal but also as a venue for international matches and music concerts too.
For those wishing to visit three of the top four largest stadiums in England, the Emirates is only 4½ miles from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and 10 miles from Wembley.
Emirates Stadium History
Initially, Arsenal wished to stay at their long-time home at Highbury Stadium. Proposals were in place to rebuild the stadium. 25 nearby houses would need to be demolished and it would lead to the ground still only housing around 48,000 supporters. It was seen as not big enough to match the club’s ambitions.
In November 1999, Arsenal looked at the possibility of building a new stadium. While a number of locations were considered, ultimately Ashburton Grove was chosen. Islington Council approved the plans in late 2001.
A huge undertaking, one that meant the land has to be bought in an expensive area, funding was needed. As well as player sales, income was raised by a new sponsorship deal with Nike. The final push for stadium funding was rewarded in 2004.
At that time, leading airline Emirates agreed to naming rights and shirt sponsorship. This meant a £100million cash injection for the club. Building work started, and the stadium was ready to open in the summer of 2006.
The jury is out with many football fans. However, the Emirates is known to be a favourite of architects. One leading industry figure describing this stadium not only as beautiful but also as intimidating.
In 2009 the club began what they called the “Arsenalisation” of the stadium, meaning artwork, colours and photos of everything to do with the club is plastered all over the venue.
The Emirates is one of the few ‘new’ stadiums in Britain to have encapsulated fans, and its stats are quite impressive.
- Capacity: 60,704
- Record Attendance: 60,161 for Arsenal v Manchester United in 2007
- Pitch: 105m x 68m, made up of a GrassMaster surface which has won the club awards for ‘best pitch’
- Stands: The Emirates is a perfect bowl, but essentially is separated out into the East Stand, West Stand, Clock End and North Bank. The latter two behind the goals are named after famous ends of the old Highbury Stadium.
Greatest Games at the Emirates
Even though the tie was effectively won on aggregate, Arsenal was desperate for a win in their new stadium in August 2006. A slow start meant they went 1-0 down to Dinamo Zagreb. However, after clawing their way back a late winner from Mathieu Flamini raised the roof for the first time at the Emirates.
The same season Arsenal played their first North London Derby at the Emirates. It was a resounding success as the Gunners hammered Spurs 3-0.
Back in 2010, Arsenal faced a classy Porto side in the Champions League last-16. Much was expected of the visitor. However, it was the home side that took control and ultimately steamrollered the Portuguese outfit with a 5-0 win.
In 2011, Arsenal put in one of their best ever shifts in European football at the Emirates when Barcelona came to town. Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side featured the likes of Messi, Pique, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Villa. The team took the lead through the latter on 26 minutes.
A most wonderful comeback ensued. However, in front of almost 60,000 fans, at first, Robin van Persie (78 mins) and finally Andrey Arshavin (83 mins) struck to given Arsenal the lead in the tie.
Few will forget the North London Derby in which Arsenal went 2-0 down to Spurs. Later coming back to win 5-2. While in recent times the 2-0 derby win in 2017, the 4-2 win in 2018 and the club’s 3-1 Europa League semi-final win against Valencia in 2019 all live long in the memory too.
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