When the day of the match you’re attending arrives, there are a number of things to look forward to before, during, and after the match. Many of these have been covered in other articles on this site, but this article is designed to take you through the experience chronologically. On match day, North London truly comes alive and there will be huge crowds on the streets and at the pubs, along with a vibrance and energy that is totally different from a typical day in North London.
When getting to the match, especially if you are riding the tube, you may encounter away supporters or supporters of other clubs in London. The EPL takes measures to make sure that the big London Clubs never play home matches on the same day at the same time, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter away supporters, especially if you’re lucky enough to be going to a London Derby. As covered in another article, these supporters will generally not give you any trouble, but you should refrain from wearing any Arsenal colors (scarves, kits, etc) on the tube regardless.
Once you get to your pub of choice to have some pre-match pints, you’ll need to be prepared to show that you are a home fan by showing your Red Membership card or your ticket. If your ticket was purchased through your membership card, you won’t have a physical ticket to show so you’ll need to show your membership card. In the pubs on match day, they prefer that you pay in cash, especially if you have a non-touchless American card. Most of the bars have ATM’s inside or nearby (the nearest one to Twelve Pins is inside a Tesco Express), and the Tollington will allow you to purchase one drink with a card and will give you cash back, but it’s generally easier to come with cash.
If you want to have a good opportunity for pictures at the stadium well before you go in, along with seeing all of the street vendors and other sites around the stadium, I’d recommend that you start at the Tollington and then walk to Twelve Pins (or the reverse), since there is a walking route between the two that will take you by Emirates and along many of the streets near the stadium that will be filled with street vendors. When you’re at the stadium, make sure to get pictures with the Thierry Henry and Tony Adams statues, among the other monuments.
The various street vendors sell scarves, programs, kits, signed photos (some more legitimate than others), and of course food. Make sure you have cash when you walk through them, since the team and player scarves make great match day souvenirs.
Eventually, it will be time to head to the stadium. Arsenal advises you to head to the stadium an hour before kickoff. Depending on the opponent, this may be necessary, but the wait times will vary a lot. Plan on an hour if you’re going to an NLD, plan for less if you’re going to a mid-week Europa League match. There will be separate lines for supporters with bags (as well as separate search lines for women in general), but the quickest way to get into the stadium is to not have a bag. Going through the turnstiles, you simply scan your membership card, which is RFID chipped and will contain your ticket.
The stadium concourse has vendors selling standard stadium food and drinks. A pre-match beer before you go to your seat is always a good time if you get into the stadium early, but keep in mind two things: you cannot take alcoholic beverages to your seat (they must be drunk in the concourse) and it is not easy to get to the bathroom during matchplay. This means that if you get a beer right before kickoff, plan on chugging it in the concourse and plan on sitting for 45+ minutes in your seat before you can use the bathroom. The same rules apply for the second half if you get a halftime beer.
On your way out of the stadium (hopefully after an Arsenal win), you will likely see the AFTV crew filming, which appeals to some and not to others. If you like AFTV, they tend to be pretty welcoming if you want to watch the filming.
You also may see the players leaving the stadium, since they have a private exit and tend to drive fairly inconspicuous cards (especially Aubamayang).
After the match, various pubs stay open so the party can continue. My favorite post-match bar is the Gunners Pub, but I always make sure to first stop at the London Supporters’ Club. If you went to a mid-week match, meaning that it likely started at 8, keep in mind that virtually all of the pubs around the stadium close at midnight, so you will only have two hours to drink. If you’re looking for a late night spot after that, head elsewhere in London, or head to The Bank of Friendship in North London which typically stays open an extra hour.
Make sure to plan how to get back to your hotel safely, either via tube, taxi, or Uber, and make sure to keep your phone charged so that you can navigate or request a ride. Enjoy celebrating the Arsenal win!