The hosts and defending Emirates Cup champions, Arsenal, begin the 2008 edition of the tournament against Italian giants Juventus in the second match of the day. After a hugely impressive 3-1 win in Germany against VfB Stuttgart, Arsene will be hoping his youthful team will continue to improve their game. We should see a more inexperienced side face Juventus tomorrow with the first-team starters getting to play in the Madrid game tomorrow. This is how Arsene organized his team during last season`s tournament.
Arsenal new boy Samir Nasri has spoken out before his imminent home debut at the Emirates this weekend. “I am very excited to play at Emirates and give my all to Arsenal,” said Nasri. “I have seen in the past weeks the passion this club generates. It is a family. I am very excited and I hope it will be a great season. I am very happy to be an Arsenal player.”
“I have got to know my team-mates and I have been very happily surprised about the stage of preparations we have reached. I like very much the way Arsenal play and the team spirit. They are all young players who appreciate each other and that can be felt on the pitch.”
“As for this weekend, we have every chance to win this tournament. In terms of preparation it is important to be playing top clubs like this straight away at the beginning of the season.”
Claudio Ranieri has praised Arsenal in the build up to this tournament. “Arsenal can teach us plenty on how to get the best young players from around the world” he said.
“It`s a politic which has paid off up until now and I compliment them.
“The Gunners have more experience than us in the Champions League as we haven`t been involved in that competition for two years.
Arsenal Team News:
Emmanuel Adebayor has confirmed that he will be staying at Arsenal next season as he will be extending his current contract one or two more years. How much of that he actually fulfills remains to be seen. Hopefully he will get smart and realize that he will not get the scoring opportunities he does now anywhere else.
News also came out yesterday that Arsene has confirmed that William Gallas will be the captain for the Gunners next season. Now, personally, I never thought there would be a change in captain, but the former Chelsea defender came under a lot scrutiny last season and some thought a change was in order.
Arsenal has seemed to have an injury free pre-season so far as nobody but the long terms absentees, Eduardo and Rosicky, are out. Though has anybody heard why we have not seen Abou Diaby so far? I heard Clichy say he was fit, but he hasn`t played a part in any of the warm-up matches.
Player to watch: Nicklas Bendtner
The Danish international has been extremely impressive so far this offseason, grabbing 5 goals in the last two games. He started off slowly with two pretty unimpressive showings against Barnet and Szombathelyi Haladas but has really come on as of late, forming a marvelous partnership with the young Mexican forward Carlos Vela. I fully expect him to grab another goal or two in this match.
Juventus Team News:
Finishing third in their first season back up in Serie A, after the infamous match fixing scandal, had to been a good achievement for the Turin club, but they will be looking to improve on that this season. They have brought in two players with sizeable experience this offseason in Olof Mellberg from Aston Villa and Amauri from Palamero. These players will certainly help them throughout the next campaign.
Player to watch: Sebastian Giovinco
If Ranieri decides to play his more youthful team in the first game then the 2008 U-21 Toulon Tournament`s MVP, Sebastian Giovinco, should get the nod in the starting line-up. Giovinco, who was recently linked to Arsenal, is an extremely short creative midfielder who will look to unlock the Arsenal defence.
Peter Walton – England
Walton officiated 3 Arsenal matches last year, Wigan(H), Fulham(A), and Reading(H). In those games he gave 7 yellows to our opposition versus 2 to us, and no reds for either team. Overall last year, he managed 41 Barclays Premier League games, dishing out 123 cautions and 5 ejections.
I see the young Arsenal players continuing their rich vein of form against the Old Lady of Turin. If Juve does indeed field a similarly young side like Arsenal then I predict a 3-1 win for us Gooners.