Emirates Cup – Preview
It’s that time of year when the Emirates throws its doors open to four of the top teams in Europe to compete for the Emirates Cup. This is the second year of the tournament, with Arsenal having won the inaugural tournament last year after a summer that saw players leave and not many coming in to replace them. Twelve months on and there is a sense of déjà vu.
This year’s tournament takes place over the weekend of Saturday 2nd August and Sunday 3rd August 2008. The teams competing are Spanish champions (still without Ronaldo) Real Madrid, Juventus who after one season out of the top flight came back with a vengeance last season and are back in the Champions League and Bundesliga team Hamburg.
Arsenal will play Juventus on Saturday, whilst they face Real Madrid on Sunday.
Teams will be awarded 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and will also earn 1 point for each goal they score in the competition. The winners will be presented with the Emirates Cup trophy after the second match on Sunday 3rd August.
For Arsene Wenger it is another opportunity to see how far the squad has developed over the summer, which of young players are ready for the Premiership and which ones need to go out on loan. In addition to the players who participated in the Stuttgart game, Wenger will add to the squad for the two games by bringing in Fabregas, new signings Coquelin and Bischoff, and youngsters Fran Merida and Kierran Gibbs.
Having missed out so far in pre-season, Abou Diaby will be desperate to take some part in the tournament, as it was in last year’s tournament that Flamini cemented his place in midfield and was never dislodged.
At the back Wenger will give a run out to Senderos who will be shocked at his early exclusion in Germany, whilst the Hoyte brothers will be determined to show the manager what they can do.
Arsene has given Denilson the freedom to express himself so far, and the young Brazilian has not disappointed. Wilshere and Ramsey are two others who have taken their opportunities and will both feature in the tournament.
In attack it will be interesting to see whether Wenger mixes his forwards around. Vela and Bendtner showed the benefit of three weeks pre-season training, they were sharp and decisive against Stuttgart, whilst Adebayor and van Persie looked a bit rusty. Theo Walcott would like to show Arsene what he can do in attack , but whilst Arsenal lack options on the wing, Walcott will have to be content with a winger’s role.
Both games are a part of the build up to the season’s start, and whilst manager’s will profess that results do not matter at this stage, winning becomes a habit that can be transferred to the new season. For players it is a chance to show what they can do, and for the fans it builds up hope for the new season, for these reasons it is important for Arsenal to retain the Emirates Cup, score goals and tighten the defence.
All four matches can be seen live on Sky Sports and are available on Arsenal TV and Arsenal TV Online from midnight.