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Do We Care About the Emirates Cup

This is the third season the Emirates Cup will be held at Arsenal.  The first was a novelty and sold out within weeks, last season had the big clubs, Real Madrid and Juventus to ensure it as a box office sell out. This season it is a different story.

There are plenty of tickets still available for this season’s tournament despite the fact that Rangers have been given 9,000 tickets for each day.  Arsenal have spent a lot of money advertising the tournament on Talk SPORT and there have been many advertisements placed in London newspapers to try to sell the tickets.

The Emirates Cup will go the same way as the old Makita trophy, this tournament drifted from Wembley to Highbury, a half empty Highbury, then into oblivion.  Why was this?  Well English fans realise that pre-season tournaments mean nothing, there is little intensity and with matches played on consecutive days, mangers will rotate their squads.

Arsenal were hoping that the Emirates Cup will become as popular as the Amsterdam Tournament.  What they failed to realise is that the public in Holland do not see top class football week-in week-out, so they will flood to watch the games.

The future of the Emirates Cup is for it to be held every two years, thus not over saturating the fans with meaningless games.  In the intervening year Arsenal should fly out to Asia or the Middle East and build the brand.

Emirates Cup – Day Two

Hamburg 3-0 Juventus

On a rain soaked day the second day kicked-off with Juventus facing Hamburg.  The way the tournament was organised meant that a good result for the Germans could give Arsenal a chance of retaining the cup.

 

Hamburgstarted the game on the front foot and were rewarded with a goal after 20 minutes scored by Guerero, to great cheers from the Arsenal fans in the crowd.  Toils as they could Juventus did not create any clear cut openings, in fact it was the Bundesliga team that should have added to their lead.

 

The game opened up in the second half, but Juventus were unable to break out of their defensive mentality.

 

Juventus played mostly on the break, but were vulnerable to any set-piece from Hamburg.  A Juventus break found Salihamidzic, he failed to control the ball and soon Hamburg broke with Olicone-on-one with the Juventus keeper but he flicked the ball wide.

 

On the 75thminute a long ball found Iaquinta unmarked, but his attempt to lift the ball over the keeper failed and the follow-up short was cleared off the line. Juventus pushed on for the equaliser instead Hamburg, and Olic in particular, scored two goals in two minutes at the end of the game to give Hamburg a 3-0 victory.

 

 

The result left Hamburg on 7 points and Juventus with 4 points.  For Arsenal to retain the trophy they need to beat Real Madrid by four clear goals, whilst a victory for Real Madrid will see the Spanish outfit take the trophy home.

Arsenal 1-0 Real Madrid

Arseneput out the big guns with the only absentees being Toure, Eduardo and Rosicky through injuries and Fabregas who was not ready.  This was a time for Arsenal to show what they could do, for Walcott to run at defenders and for Adebayorto build bridges with the fans.

Before the game, Eduardo came onto the pitch to the delight of all Arsenal fans.

Arsenal were steady at the back, snuffing out the Real Madrid chances.  In midfield the first half was mixed, with some good work from Nasri but too often Diaby lost the ball needlessly. Upfront Adebayor and van Persie linked up well, dropping deep and causing the Real defence all sorts of trouble.

All the attacking came from Arsenal.  On the half-hour mark, van Persie created room on the left, cross the ball but Adebayor was unable to trouble the goalkeeper.

There were no changes at half-time as Wenger sought to give his “main” players more playing time.

Straight from the kick-off, van Persie picked the ball up in the middle of the pitch, strode forward with purpose and his shot had Dudek scurrying across the goal.  Soon after van Persie was fouled in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.  Up stepped the summer bad boy, Adebayor, he slotted the ball home and soaked up the adulation of the fans with the traditional kiss of the badge.

The goal gave Arsenal the boost they needed and they played with the zip and zest of last season.  They kept on looking for more and more goals as the contest required. Adebayor was a constant menace to the Real defence, his physical strength, holding the ball, all traits that made him Arsenal’s top marksman last season were not missing this afternoon.

The second half saw a better performance from Diaby, but Denilson has done enough in pre-season to claim a starting place alongside Fabregas.  Nasri showed some of his ability, some great interchanges with Adebaoyr, a sign of things to come for the forthcoming season.

Arsenal nearly extended theri lead, when Adebayor went on a mazy run and flicked the ball past the hapless the Dudek, only the ball to go inches the wrong side of the post.

The second half was punctuated with a series of substitutions, all of which interrupt the fluidity of the game.  There was only going to be one team to score any further goals that was Arsenal, but that was not to be.

Line up – Alumnia; Sagna, Senderos, Gallas (Djourou -89), Clichy; Walcott (Eboue – 65), Denilson, Diaby (Ramsey -75), Nasri  (Wilshere – 75); Adebayor (Bendtner – 75),van Persie (Vela – 66)

Emirates Cup – Day One

Real Madrid 2-1 Hamburg

The Emirates tournament got under way with Real Madrid facing Martin Jol’s Hamburg, arguably the weakest of the four teams.

Real Madrid defeated Hamburg 2-1 in the Emirates Cup on Saturday. It was a match overshadowed by the impending transfer of Rafael van der Vaart from Hamburg to Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants were quick out of the blocks and should have led through Van Nistelrooy as early as the fourth minute but the Dutchman’s surge on goal was halted by on-rushing ‘keeper Frank Rost.

Hamburg were not prepared to become Real’s cannon fodder and had two chances that were thwarted by last-ditch tackles from Heinze and Miguel Salgado respectively. But Madrid soon found themselves on top again as Robben went close.

Much of Real’s dominance was due the central midfield duo of Gutti and Diarra’s dominance. .It was the ability of the midfielders to interchange that led to Real’s opener. Guti was at the top of the box, Salgado provided the overlap and, with too much space at the byline, the full-back picked out Van Nistelrooy to finish from inside the six-yard.

Hamburg came at Real Madrid but to no avail, until the after the break when their play was rewarded with a goal. The Egyptian international, Zidan, jinked in from the left, dropped a shoulder, nudged the ball away from two defenders and swept a glorious effort high and around Dudek.

The goal jolted Rela into life, but they were unable to beat Rost.
Five minutes from time, Saviola found Callejon in space on the right hand side and his cross, was met by a flying header from QPR bound Parejo to seal the points.

Arsenal 0-1 Juventus

Arsenal’s defeat by Juvetnus leaves them with a mountain to climb if they wish to retain the Emirates Cup.

Wenger decided to play most of the youngsters in the first game, and they held their own in the first half an hour.

Carlos Vela, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey were making their debuts at Emirates Stadium in an Arsenal shirt while Kieran Gibbs, who starred at the inaugural competition 12 months ago, began at left back.

Arsenal played well in the first half , the young midfield was not overpowered by the more experienced Juventuis, adding further credence to the cries of giving Wilshere his Premiership debut sooner rather than later..After 25 minutes Wilshere found Ramsey, who ran into the area forcing Buffon into a save. Ramsey is another player who is showing maturity beyond his age.

Just before half-time Juventus took the lead in a controversial manner when Iaquinta fired in a low free-kick and the Frenchman slid the ball in at the far post. Replays showed the goal should have been disallowed for offside.

At half-time, Wenger introduced three players Diaby, Adebayor and Gallas, it was good to see Diaby step onto the pitch once more.

The second half saw Juventus sit back, quite content with their lead. The meant the onus was on Arsenal to go forward, and create chances.

Arsenal pushed forward and Bendtner headed in the opening seconds. Adding the experience at half-time helped Arsenal create more chances.

Arsene made more changes just before the hour, bringing on Walcott, Sagna and Nasri. The impetus and urgency was firmly with Arsenal now and there were echoes of last season’s fluency when Sagna floated over a cross for Adebayor to thunder in a header. Buffon held on to the ball just under the bar.

Bendtner and Adebayor combined well, to create several half chances . AS the clock was ticking away, Adebayor received the ball on the edge of the area, he opened hi body and curled a beautiful shot that beat Buffon, but unfortunately beat the post too.

Line-up – Fabianski; J Hoyte (Sagna – 60), Senderos (Gallas – 45), Djourou, Gibbs; Eboue (Nasri – 60), Ramsey (Diaby -45), Denilson, Wilshere (Walcott – 60) ; Vela (Adebayor – 45), Bendtner

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.