...Arsenal will even throw in a football match for free! Seriously, though, tonight represents an excellent opportunity for those who can't normally get a ticket to watch Arsene's finest, but would love to have a butcher's around their new stadium and didn't fancy forking out over £50 to watch Portugal beat Brazil the other week. Arsenal host Cardiff City tonight in an FA Youth Cup quarter final which might typically have been held at Barnet's Underhill, the venue for Arsenal's reserve games, but is instead being put on at their still shiny and new 60,000 capacity home.
The club hopes for a healthy attendance given the entrance fee of the above mentioned three quid (a mere pound for concessions), but do take note that the kick-off is set for the damn-I've-missed-the-first-half time of 7pm. Given that Arsenal's reserve side rarely contains anybody much older than school age you might reasonably assume that the early start is to allow youth boss and Highbury defensive legend Steve Bould time to read his pre-teen charges a chapter of Harry Potter before lights out, but in the competition's three rounds so far the Gunners have used two players with first team experience in highly rated, penalty-taking midfielder Mark Randall and left winger Armand Traore (who some observers are calling the new Theo Walcott) as well as several more with senior squad numbers including midfielder and former goalkeeper Jay Simpson (who first appeared at this level aged 13) and Dutch youth international midfielder Nacer Barazite who have both bagged two goals in the wins over Wycombe, Hull and Bristol City in the competition so far. The other scorers were Randall and Barcelona born Fran Merida who is heavily tipped to follow in the footsteps of Cesc Fabregas. A two-legged sem-final awaits tonight's victors against either Birmingham City or Manchester United.
If you are thinking of going, bear in mind the advice on the Arsenal official web site:
Piccadilly Line trains will be non-stopping at Arsenal tube station on Monday 19 February. This is due to maintenance. Supporters are advised to use Highbury and Islington or Finsbury Park tube stations. Both are within 15-20 minutes walk of the stadium.
Picture of the rush to find the open turnstile via cubicgarden's Flickr stream.