By Paul Sweeny (@thesweeney51)
When you move homes you always lose something in the process.
Arsenal lost one of English football’s unique stadiums – a tribute to art-deco architecture tucked behind a row of terraced houses in North London – the scene for many of the club’s triumphs and home for 93 years.
By almost any measure the Emirates is a superior stadium to Highbury, yet doubts linger it amounts to less than the sum of its parts and the overall experience is an inferior one – like moving from a Victorian semi packed with period features to a Barratt Homes new build.
Better, yet somehow worse.
Unquestionably much of this is down to our final years at Highbury coinciding with arguably the high water mark in Arsenal’s modern history, and the first years at the Emirates marked by inglorious failure.
The club’s move away from its spiritual home was sold to fans as enabling it to compete with Europe’s elite – the loss of Highbury will be worth it for a better tomorrow.
But there’s only so long you can sell the future – success at Highbury was too fresh in the memory, and the Emirates the millstone around the club’s neck as stars were sold and it struggled to compete with the Premier League’s traditional heavyweights plus the nouveau riche Chelsea and Manchester City.
Winning trophies is the only way to make the Emirates feel like home, as it begins to create its own history and sense of place, rather than fans mourning what we used to have on and off the pitch in the final years at Highbury.
Perhaps the Emirates will finally feel more like home at the season opener against Crystal Palace, as eight years on, the club finally completes its move – by hanging a picture of the FA Cup on the banner inside the stadium remembering the club’s triumphs.
Since the move from Highbury the empty space to the right hand side of the 2005 FA Cup win has haunted the club and provided TV cameramen with a convenient cutaway and visual reminder of the club’s failure at the Emirates.
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