With the Barclays Premier League season lurking on the ever-nearing horizon, Arsenal have stepped up their pre-season preparations. After the majority of Arsène Wenger’s first-team squad returned to training last week, Arsenal will fly out to Malaysia today to reconcile with the vast ranks of Asian Gooners, as well as test themselves against three testing teams – a Malaysia XI, Kitchee FC and, more importantly, Manchester City.
Arsenal have had a long-standing affiliation with the Far East. From Arsène Wenger’s history with Japanese side Grampus Eight, to the more recent influx of Asian players who’ve become a part of Arsenal’s first-team, Arsenal have always endeared themselves to the Asian fans – it’s important that Arsenal repay the Asian Gooners’ faith and support.
“But the second thing for me was how much people know about our club.”
Arsène Wenger on Arsenal’s Chinese Fans
Arsène Wenger has always used such pre-season tours to develop and encourage promising young players, as we saw last Summer with Emmanuel Frimpong, and nothing’s changed this Summer. Arsenal announced their 24-man tour squad, minus the want-away Robin van Persie, today. A whole host of experienced players were included, Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta to name a few, but more interestingly, SEVEN reserve team players have made the squad.
Benik Afobe, Chuks Aneke, Nico Yennaris, Craig Eastmond and winter arrival, Thomas Eisfeld, will all make the step-up from previous reserve team and loanee commitments, while Ryo Miyaichi and Ignasi Miquel, two players who featured in a handful of first-team games last season, will look to impress the coaching staff before a decision is made on their short-term futures.
It will be intriguing to see how well the aforementioned players will perform. Everyone of them, especially close friends Ignasi Miquel and Benik Afobe, will want to impress Wenger ahead of the forthcoming Capital One Cup competition, a tournament which Arsenal have always paraded their highly rated youngsters in. Ryo Miyaichi will aim to impress too, hoping to build upon his inspiring performances at loan side Bolton Wanderers. One thing that is for sure though is that each player will get sufficient game time to try to impress the manager, a manager who often repays a youth player’s hard work and pain.
In other tour-related news, new signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski won’t be a part of Arsenal’s Asian retreat. Both participated in the European Championships, therefore will stay at London Colney to work on their fitness. Robin Van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin will remain in Britain to complete their moves away from the Emirates this Summer.
As advocates of youth football, we at OurArsenal will try to keep you up-to-date with Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia. For now – relax and enjoy Arsenal’s tour of Eastern Asia!
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