Date: 30th July 2008 at 6:23pm
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Arsenal starts a more serious pre-season fixtures tonight versus VfB Stuttgart. This is the game many Arsenal supporters have been waiting for because most of the starters will get their first chance to shine in these early season games. This match will commemorate the re-naming of Stuttgart`s stadium from the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium to the Mercedez-Benz Arena. This newly named stadium will most likely be filled to the capacity of 55,896 for this high-profile friendly fixture.

This game starts a run of extremely difficult pre-season fixtures that will no doubt push our team to the max and have us ready to go on all fronts for the first game of the season against West Brom. Has anyone ever seen a harder pre-season schedule? We will play the likes of Stuttgart, Real Madrid, Juventus, Sevilla, and Ajax in the space of two weeks!

Vital Quotes:

Van Persie has spoken out today about his plans for the game tonight and a former Gunner in particular. ‘I am hoping to play well so we will see what it brings,’ said Van Persie.

‘Jens is a fantastic goalkeeper. He is almost 39 but he is still a fantastic goalkeeper and a nice man as well. He has lots of humour so I always have a good laugh with him, and I am happy he is still in the game because he’s a real professional.”

Robin went on to say ‘It’s good fun to see him and I hope I get the chance to score many goals against him like I did in training!’

Abou Diaby has talked about the Austrian training camp in general. ‘It’s good, we came here to prepare well,’ said Diaby.

‘It is 10 days together and we have built the foundation for the season ahead. We are prepared and we have tried to work a lot, to practice our best game. It has been good for us.’

VfB Stuttgart Team News:

The Bundesliga 2007 champions have already played a couple of competitive games this summer as they advanced to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. They beat Russian side FK Saturn Ramenskoje three to nil on aggregate.

Player to watch: Jens Lehmann

Of course Jens Lehmann is the obvious choice for player to watch for Stuttgart, as ironically the first time the mad German will line up for his new team it will be against his former one. I will be saddened to see the big man not in an Arsenal jersey today, but this is football and players move on. I can only hope the traveling Gooners will give him a very warm reception.

Also the Arsenal defense will have to be aware of the goal scoring threat from Mario Gomez, but if he plays like he did for Germany in the Euros we should have no problem controlling him.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal signed Frenchugese player Amaury Bischoff this morning on a Bosman deal, but he will not join the squad till tomorrow when they return to Austria. We will see the anticipated return of the main players tonight, and we should also finally see the debut of French playmaker Samir Nasri.

Player to watch: Adebayor

Tonight Adebayor will most likely make his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt since all of his acrimonious comments this summer about his possible transfer. Personally I will welcome Ade back into the team because I still think that he has the ability to become a world class player, especially at his tender age. But it will be up to him to regain some of his credibility with the Arsenal faithful. He will have to work very hard, even harder than usual to do this. In the end it will be Adebayor`s attitude towards everything, on and off the pitch, that will determine his future at this club.
I suspect that Arsenal will win this one by a tight score line of 2 to 1. Adebayor and Van Persie to grab the goals for Arsenal and Gomez to continue our trend of conceding in these preseason games.

I hope everyone enjoys the game tonight. I fly out to London after the match to watch the Emirates Cup! Come on Arsenal!!