Frank Stubbs: Homeward bound

13/14: Indonesia Dream Team 0-7 Arsenal - Chuba Akpom
Chuba Akpom

Homeward Bound

Every pre-season trip to Asia has been special for many many reasons. This year's however, has surely been the most diverse when it comes to the individual destinations. Jakarta, Hanoi and Nagoya were tough acts to follow but Tokyo has delivered emphatically!

With so much crammed into the last few days it is very difficult to know where to start. Be it visually, culturally or culinary it has been an incredible experience from the moment we stepped off the 'Bullet Train' on Wednesday afternoon.

The areas of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Rappongi host an amazing combination of shops, high rise buildings, restaurants, pubs and pretty much everything else you can think of. By night these areas become a mass of neon lights like nothing you have ever seen.

If you enjoy people watching too it is a quite fantastic city to do it, the individuality of the fashions on show are a sight to behold!

In a city of 20 to 30 million people it is of course a little chaotic at times, yet amongst the madness everything seems to work so efficiently.

We also got the chance to visit one or two of the many shrines and temples around the city, a place for some tranquility alongside the hustle and bustle.

The food too is incredibly varied, from grills or hotpots cooking in the centre of your table to the best sushi you could ever experience.

Tokyo as a city then has surprised, amazed and excited but the reason for our visit was the same as every other city we have been lucky enough to see over the three trips to Asia.

The final match of the tour against Urawa Reds took place in an area to the north of the city called Saitama, the stadium being both a long train journey and walk from the centre.

Another great stadium, we were met once again by a mass of colour and smiling faces, donned by both Japanese and other Gooners and supporters of our hosts.

The match itself was similar in many ways to the three preceding it, only squandered chances, good goalkeeping and the woodwork preventing us from seeing another hatful of goals.

With time running out however, it looked like we might finish the tour with a draw. Chuba Akpom was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a defensive mix up and put away the chance that not only saw us get the result we deserved but also finished the tour off with our four win out of four.

Early tomorrow morning (and probably by the time you read these thoughts) I will be back home and of course looking forward to the weekend's Emirates Cup.

For now I would like to say a massive thank you to all those people I have met over the past couple of weeks. Your hospitality in all four cities has been nothing short of fantastic and I will arrive home with a head full of outstanding memories.

Victoria Concordia Crescit


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