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Emirates Stadium
Arsenal v
Queens Park Rangers
Saturday, December 31st 2011, 3pm
Premier League
By Ben Buckingham
(QPR fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
So many people have said to me how fantastic the Emirates Stadium is, so after waiting 15 years for QPR to get back to Englandís elite level, going to see the bigger clubs away is always something to look forward to. I never did Highbury and we last played Arsenal away when I was 13. Looking at photos of the Emirates and games on television it looked brilliant. So being a new away club to visit (No 60 to be precise) I was looking forward to this from the moment the fixtures were released in June. Also having some good friends and work colleagues as Arsenal fans always adds to the interest. The only negative was how poor QPR had been for the previous 8 games only getting 1 point in 15 so coming here was always going to be a tough test for the R's!

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
A London away day means a tube journey! The Buckingham Boys (Me, my twin Ian and cousin Mark) set off from Hillingdon reasonably early around 1130. We decided to avoid the long-winded Piccadilly line travelling all through West and Central London and jumped on the Met line and headed for Kings Cross. Very simple and hassle free, good journey! Clive avoided the pre-match beers and we met him and saw Big Chris at the ground.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
We headed to Kings Cross to find a pub and to chill out for an hour and a half. We found the OíNeilís just outside the station. There were a few football fans about but not many. We enjoyed a few beers and some Nachoís and relaxed talking rubbish. We left there around 2pm and jumped on the Piccadilly line for the short journey to Arsenal station. There was a very relaxed feel about going to the Emirates didnít seem like there would be any problems at all. The walk from the station was very simple literally just around the corner passing by plenty of souvenir and food stalls.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
Quite simply, the stadium is superb! It looks incredible as you approach it, very modern and of high quality. People say new stadiums all look the same like a bowl style arena with different coloured seats. This wasnít the case, just the outside of the stadium alone looked excellent. The huge Arsenal badges on the exterior and the legends pictures and statues of former players were a nice touch too. There was plenty of room to walk around, no queues at the programme sellers, toilets outside the ground, just everything to make a matchday more enjoyable. Inside the ground it was just as good. The stadium is the same all the way around so the away section looks the same as everywhere else but the 3 tier design was impressive.
The match was a bit lonely for me Ė sat on my own as according to Clive my attitude was ĎForget everyone else, Iím getting my ticket and not worrying about themí. Basically QPRís loyalty points, I was in the top bracket on my own and everyone else had to wait and I insisted on getting mine right away...there was one point the boys threatened to not tell me where they were sitting and to travel on their own J. At-least I missed Ianís football tactic talk which they all had to suffer.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
The facilities here were really good. There wasnít a queue anywhere and there was plenty of space to move around on the concourse. The beers and food were good quality but maybe a touch overpriced. Like most modern grounds there were TV screens to watch the game and the Sky match before Ė where United let us down losing to Blackburn! The atmosphere I was told at the Emirates is very poor. I didnít think it was too bad, bearing in mind QPR arenít a big London derby for Arsenal. There was some banter with the fans on the left of the away section and the home fans in parts did stand up occasionally singing. They were miles ahead of the embarrassing Liverpool fans at Anfield earlier in the month! 

Onto the game... a similar story in recent weeks, a poor decision from the officials denied us a corner and then a costly error from that decision by Shaun Wright-Phillips gave Robin Van Persie the chance to equal the most Premier League goals scored in a calendar year Ė which he gratefully accepted. Arsenal missed two excellent chances, Walcott a one-on-one and Van Persie from 10 yards out hit over the bar. QPR didnít play badly but the one terrible error cost us and we didnít have too many chances throughout the match. The QPR fans were very good and a work colleague at the game said we were very loud and kept going to the end!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
For a 60,000 attendance I thought this could be a nightmare! It was very easy and hassle free. Walked back to Arsenal station in 20 minutes and we were away! A tip Ė when walking back to the station, donít queue on the left hand side, walk past the station about 150 yards and join the queue from that end, it will save a bit of time. A regular stop at Baker Street Treats shops was in order and we got back to Hillingdon within the hour to head off for our new yearís celebrations.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out
By far the best club stadium I have ever done! The Emirates in the pinnacle of away days and I will go back every time QPR play there, which hopefully we can stay up this season and be back again next year! Compared to going to Spurs, this was hassle free and took barely an hour each way for us. It was a shame we couldnít get a result but a very enjoyable away day. Onto MK Dons for the FA Cup with the 5,000 Rangers fans! Ė hopefully see us win our first FA Cup game in 11 years!

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