Seeing Arsenal in Sydney was a childhood dream come true

Michael Thompson Roar Rookie

By , Michael Thompson is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    As a nine-year-old in 2003, watching Arsenal play in Australia was a pipe dream.

    But as football grew in Australia, so did the amount of English Premier League clubs heading Down Under to play in exhibition matches.

    Liverpool played Melbourne Victory at a packed MCG, while 95,000 fans sang ‘You’ll never walk alone’.

    Manchester United played the A-League All Stars in Sydney, and then the next year Juventus took on on an Alessandro Del Piero-led All Stars.

    I’d just walked out of the AC/DC concert at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on a warm December night in 2016, when I flicked on Facebook and saw that Arsenal would be heading to Australia in July 2017.

    After all the sleepless nights as a teenager and into early adulthood watching my beloved Gunners, it was a necessity to jet up to Sydney to see them play live.

    Fast-forward to Thursday night, July 13, 2017. Arsenal played Sydney FC in front of over 80,000 people, including myself, decked out in my Arsenal gear.

    As the sides emerged from the tunnel, you could feel the atmosphere around the stadium intensify.

    Arsenal went into the first 45 minutes with a younger line-up, names not many people would’ve heard of like Joe Willock, Cohen Bramall, Reiss Nelson and Kristian Bielik, alongside the experienced heads of Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Petr Cech.

    It was the Gunners’ captain who struck first, with a fantastic overhead kick inside six yards to open the scoring.

    Ozil received a rousing reception every time he took a corner kick, and Arsenal were up 1-0 at the end of the first 45.

    The second half saw Arsene Wenger make ten changes, as most of the team that played the first 65 minutes was subbed out, bringing on the more experienced heads like Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and new recruit French striker Alexander Lacazette blazing around ANZ wearing the number 9 jersey.

    Fifteen minutes on pitch, and the Frenchman scored his first in Arsenal colours, courtesy of a great pass assist from Alex Iwobi – hopefully the first of many for the new recruit.

    Only two goals were scored, but what a game it was. The Gunners can now look forward to spending some time with their fans before they take on the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night, again at ANZ Stadium.

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