Date: Saturday, 03/08/2013
Kick off: 16:20 GMT, 20:50 IST
Location: Emirates Stadium, Ashburton Grove, London, England, United Kingdom
Arsenal take on Napoli in the second game of the Emirates Cup following the opener between Galatasaray and Porto in London today afternoon.
The Gunners return to England after a Far Eastern jaunt that saw them visit Indonesia and Japan and become the first English football team to visit Vietnam.
Napoli on the other hand have inducted a new manager into the hotseat this summer and with Rafa Benitez have come a raft of new signings who will want to prove their mettle on the Spaniard’s return to England.
The Gunners have been in fine goalscoring form off late. They put seven goals apiece past the Vietnam National Football Team and an Indonesian Dream Team and also beat Japanese sides Urawa Reds and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s former team Nagoya Grampus Eight.
The Gunners are the hosts of the tournament and have won the trophy on three occasions. There was no tournament last season on occasion of the 2012 London Olympics.
In 2011, the Gunners drew both of their games against Boca Juniors and New York Red Bulls. It was Thierry Henry’s new side that won the trophy.
With the sale of Edinson Cavani netting the Italian side a cool 63 million Euros, Napoli have brought in several new players this summer.
Under newly-appointed manager Rafael Benitez, the Italians have signed Real Madrid centre back Raul Albiol Tortajada and more importantly if you are an Arsenal fan, striker Gonzalo Higuain.
The Argentina striker was long linked to a move to Arsenal but after contract talks had apparently stalled, Napoli swooped for the Argentine as a replacement for Cavani
This is the first time the Neapolitan side are competing in this tournament.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that both new signing Yaya Sanogo and last season’s Player of the Year Santi Cazorla will both see action over the weekend.
In addition, the defensive crisis that befell the Gunners during their Asia Tour seems to be resolving itself. Thomas Vermaelen will be back in six weeks because of a stress fracture but Nacho Monreal will resume training this Monday.
Squad (from): Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Lukasz Fabianski, Yaya Sanogo, Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Ryo Miyaichi, Damian Martinez, Ignasi Miquel, Nicklas Bendtner
With new players coming in this side, new loan signing Jose Reina will look forward to resume his partnership with Rafa Benitez as he takes to the field against a club he is very familiar with.
The Spaniard has praised the speedy acquisition of both Reina and Higuain and will be keen to see how he gels with Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik.
Squad (from): Rafael, Bruno Uvini, Marco Donadel, Miguel Britos, Jose Callejon, Andrea Dossena, Gonzalo Higuain, Christian Maggio, Davide Bariti, Dries Mertens, Roberto Colombo, Giandomenico Mesto, Juan Zuniga, Goran Pandev, Blerim Dzemaili, Federico Fernandez, Josip Radosevic, Pepe Reina, Lorenzo Insigne, Pablo Armero, Paolo Cannavaro, Raul Albiol, Alessando Gamberini, Walter Gargano, Emanuele Calaio, Valon Behrami, Soma Novothny, Gokhan Inler, Gennaro Tutino
Arsenal: Santi Cazorla
The diminutive Spaniard picked up the gong for Player of the Season and having returned from an extended vacation because of his commitments with the Spain National Football Team, will play his first game in an Arsenal jersey this weekend.
Napoli: Gonzalo Higuain
Arsenal fans would have liked to see him this weekend, but wearing the club’s red and white strip. Instead, they will see the striker lead the line for Napoli today afternoon as he attempts to stamp his place on a first team berth in Benitez’s side.
This will be Napoli’s first serious test this season, having faced only Galatasaray previously, in a friendly at the Stadio San Paolo.
Arsenal will want to show their fans that their squad (despite few new faces) can carry on their excellent pre season form against more fancied opposition.
Arsenal 2-1 Napoli