Showing posts with label Manchester City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manchester City. Show all posts

Monday, August 12, 2013

Arsenal 3-1 Manchester City - thoughts (and photos)

After all the hype, all the money, all the dissent... Arsenal won their final pre-season friendly against Manchester City by three goals to one. The game was obviously still pre-season, nothing particularly meaty or controversial. The match was entertaining, with a few sideshows, and most of the attendees will have gone home happy.

At the final whistle

I'd started the day early, breakfasting at a BBQ diner in an abattoir in Kallio, with a Karhu of course. Shortly after the real boozing began, with €2.80 beers going down a storm. After a spot of bar-hopping, we found that the Olympiastadion had a fan area open, with plenty of bars, live music and people... At that point it was obvious that there were a lot more Arsenal shirts than Man City - the clear tone for the evening.

There was a good atmosphere, but with no amount of cringe. In the seats, under the big screen in the Pohjoiskaarre (north end), the teams came out... To the theme tune from Superman. Oh dear. From where I was, there were red and white shirts everywhere, and plenty of noise. Some of the older Arsenal chants were sung, in heavy Finnish accents. The jerseys had Wilshere and Cazorla on the back, while even Mrs ETS donned a 1970s home shirt.

Arsenal's early goal helped proceedings, Theo Walcott beating Joe Hart after Ramsey's great pass. It gave the crowd some momentum and kept the few City fans quiet. By half-time, everyone was thirsty for a beer, and although the option was Carlsberg, they did good business at €7 a pint. In the second half, goals from Ramsey and Giroud were lapped up, while Negredo's goal pointed out where the blue fans were (there weren't many).

Cameo appearances from Samir Nasri (booed heavily) and former Finland U21 international Carl Jenkinson added some more pantomime to the proceedings before the final whistle. The photo below will help cheer up any Gooner.

At the final whistle, the customary presentations were made on the pitch, to some music from Rocky IV... Walcott won man of the match, and the players trudged off - but there was time for Jenkinson to do a lap of honour before heading off. Carl had spoken to the Arsenal website about his difficult decision in choosing England, but was warmly cheered by the spectators. He threw his shirt into the crowd, and seemed pretty moved...

The aftermath of the game revealed some of the feeling in Finland - an attendance of over 39000 football fans who could have been elsewhere, especially as the much-hyped SuperMatsi in Jyväskylä got JJK's second lowest attendance of the year. There were even noises in HS that Finland would love to host a 39th game, if the Premier League ever rebooted that idea (surely not).

For me, it was nice to see my team in Finland, and a nice way to spend a weekend. There were a few familiar faces, and nice to catch up with friends and family. I was asked if I'd fly over just for Finnish matches, and of course I would - not this year though, I've seen four matches in Finland in the last 9 weeks and I'm skint.

Who's that handsome chap in the shades at the top of the group shot?

A nice weekend. Hopefully Arsenal will be back for real next time. Preferably in Kuopio!

In case you forgot

Highlights of Arsenal 3-1 Manchester City

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Arsenal v Man City aka "Super Match" - some thoughts

This Saturday sees a friendly between English clubs Arsenal and Manchester City - billed in Finland as "Super Match". Now there is nothing to play for in theory, for both clubs it's the last pre-season friendly and the end to a summer of several miles covering the US and Asia.

The clubs played prior to last season as well, in Beijing, which saw City win 2-0. Arsenal even pandered to their prospective sponsors and fans by wearing their shirt sponsor Emirates in Chinese script. This year will be a chance for City fans to see their new signings Navas, Jovetic and Negredo, while Finland-based Gunners supporters can see, er, part Finn and baseball cap designer Carl Jenkinsn.

Now the match has received huge publicity in Finland, but not all for the right reasons. There are huge sums involved in hosting the game, which are of course covered by some outlandish ticket prices. Other than a handful of tickets available at £30, the majority of tickets in the Arsenal end went for £60 - almost as much as a ticket to watch a category A game at the Emirates.

Another issue is about why should it be a match between two English sides? Surely it would be more interesting for Arsenal (for example) to play a Finnish club? Despite the partisan nature, it would at least be more of a novelty to see them take on HJK or Honka for example, or even make it an exhibition by fielding a team of Veikkausliiga players.

I'll admit I'm not helping the issue by flying over from London to watch the match, but then I've got an Arsenal season ticket and I've seen Arsenal play all over Europe - I had always said I'd love to see Arsenal in Finland, but I'd hoped it'd be in the Champions League.

The other point of note is the impact on domestic Finnish football. This weekend sees a full round of matches, and Saturday sees the Veikkausliiga match between JJK and Jaro, billed as "Super Matsi". It promises to be well attended, with various other fan-led activities taking place in Jyväskylä. Friend of the blog Egan Richardson wrote about it for Supporters Direct, read here.

Thursday also saw JJK release a video they made, highlighting the impact of Super Match on Finnish football - would the 36,000 odd attendees go and see any of the league matches at the weekend? Do the English clubs need the money?

I appreciate the fact that if it wasn't Arsenal playing, I'd probably be slating the Super Match, and cursing the teams involved. Having only just been to Finland (in June), to fly back so quick is both expensive and pretty inconvenient - maybe I should save my money and go to the Champions League play-off instead?

I'll be in Helsinki on Saturday (drinking in Kallio before the game), cheering on my team. Hopefully it won't do too much damage to the league and culture I've come to call my own...

Plus I hate Carlsberg.