This weekend Arsenal will take part as hosts of the Emirates Cup competition, which has always been a very welcome pre-season tournament, where you are actually playing for points in a league table, but of course it’s still all a bit of fun. The tournament marks the sponsored stadium club name – The Emirates stadium and this year it will feature Napoli, Galatasaray, Porto and of course Arsenal.
Interestingly each of the clubs involved at the tournament have some significance to Arsenal football club. Firstly we come to Galatasaray and I’m sure you all know that the connection with Arsenal here is Emmanuel Eboue. Staying positive for one moment, it should be a great moment to welcome back Eboue because although he wasn’t always the best player, his character and personality would always light up your face. But then of course we also have the reminders of that famous night in Istanbul, the reason why Arsenal fans hate Piers Morgan and ultimately the memory of the fans that were injured and killed in the violence. Some believe it’s wrong to invite the Turkish champions here because of the past, but all I say is that if you do go to the games stay safe and unfortunately be wary of both verbal and physical violence.
Next we come to Napoli, who have a reshuffled team, now featuring lots of big names and so it will be interesting how strong their line-up is following the sale of Cavani. One of those big players is of course Higuain, who we all know the saga about. He will probably make his debut against Arsenal and to be honest I can just picture him scoring. Expect chants of “He should have been ours” to ring around the Emirates, aimed at Wenger. At least they didn’t take Julio Cesar as well.
Now we come to Porto, which doesn’t really have many affiliations with Arsenal. All I can remember about Porto vs. Arsenal is a 5-0 win for the Gunners with a Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick (its unbelievable Jeff) and that solo Samir Nasri goal. It was a fantastic Champions League night and one of the best games I’ve ever seen at the Emirates. I suppose if Porto hurry they may be able to secure Bernard in time to really annoy us, but it looks unlikely now.
Lastly, I know for this year’s Emirates Cup, many people planned on protesting at the game with banners and protest songs bounding around the stadium, however I can almost guarantee you there will be banners saying “In Wenger we trust” all over the place, not to mention that the competition is usually the games the little kids go to watch so there won’t be much singing. And finally who knows, maybe if we are lucky we might be able to win our OWN club competition this year, after falling at the hands of lower opposition, in Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls two years ago.