Time for a little bit of Lisboa to come to Norwich City – and I don’t mean Ricky van Wolfswinkel

Sporting Lisbon's fans at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Sporting Lisbon's fans at Estadio Jose Alvalade. - Credit: Álvaro Isidoro / Global Imagens

Whatever you think of the team and supporters, the Emirates Stadium is a wonderful place to visit in terms of infrastructure.

Someone suggested to me it lacks soul, but I don’t agree. The frontage that greets you on your walk up makes you well aware of the club’s history. It feels like the home of an impressive English football institution.

Southampton, Sunderland, the DW Stadium – The Emirates is on a different level.

There have been – and still are – issues with ticket prices and attendances at the home of the Gunners. Their £25 pricing for Saturday’s visit from Norwich was arguably brought in to help swing the mood ahead of their season ticket deadline – although that could just be a cynical view someone shared.

But something did stick with me as the crowd built up and then settled down for kick-off: the inoffensive PA man who wished everyone an enjoyable match as Mike Jones blew his first whistle.


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I’m sure some fans wished Jones had stopped there – but I digress.

The polite wishes of the Arsenal mic man felt so English, given the two occasion of vociferous balling, wailing and stirring of passionate, partisan emotions I absorbed in Lisbon – first at Benfica, secondly at Sporting.

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One club was embarking on a big European night – albeit in a two thirds-full stadium. Yet the noise was beyond ear-splitting, as if the Estádio da Luz was not only full but the rest of Lisbon was outside joining in.

Sporting’s night was the equivalent to City hosting the likes of Preston in a mundane Championship season – yet the noise they generated was born out of passion that eclipsed their club’s troubled season.

Arsenal’s passion was nowhere near that, even when they came good at the end. But I have heard those levels at Carrow Road before.

I’m sure Ricky van Wolfswinkel will want to hear it when he joins next season.

And for City’s future, Reading need to hear that at the weekend.

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