Monday, August 19, 2013

19 August 2006 - Not The Housewarming Present They Would have Liked

On 19 August 2006, Arsenal played their first competitive game at the new Emirates Stadium, drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa.

Built over a three-year period with a construction cost of £390 million, the stadium replaced Arsenal's previous home, Highbury, and expanded the club's match-day capacity from 38,000 to over 60,300. A slightly less-than-capacity crowd of 60,023 turned up for the the first competitive game there on the Premier League's opening weekend, with Aston Villa as the guests of honor.

It was a close contest, remaining scoreless through the first half, but Villa managed to break the deadlock early in the second when captain Olof Mellberg headed home from a 53rd-minute corner kick.

Corner kicks became the theme of the day. Arsenal substitute Theo Walcott came on in the 73rd minute and, eleven minutes later, sent in a cross that dropped at the feet of midfielder Gilberto Silva, who prodded it home to earn a share of the points.