The last time Arsenal were in town back in 2015, they created such a massive buzz that the 55,000-seater National Stadium was almost filled – with a record attendance of 52,107- for the final of their Barclays Asia Trophy match against fellow English side Everton.
Three years on that record still stands, and there is no reason why it cannot be broken, especially with the Gunners back again and facing Spanish giant Atletico Madrid and French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain this time.
The trio will be taking part in a pre-season club friendly tournament called the International Champions Cup, which is making its second appearance in Singapore following Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Inter Milan’s stopover last summer.
Arsenal will take on Atletico in the opening match on 26 July, before facing PSG two days later. The triangular will also see Atletico lock horns with PSG on 30 July. All matches kickoff at 7.30 pm and will be played at the National Stadium.
Following the departure of manager Arsene Wenger, who stepped down in May after 22 successful years at Arsenal’s helm, all eyes will be firmly affixed on his successor Unai Emery.
The Spaniard has already impressed many with his charisma and high-intensity training methods, and he made it clear that Arsenal will be taking this pre-season tournament seriously.
“We are all working very hard. The players are working with the ambition that I want, and I think the quality is high here,” stated the 46-year-old in an official media release. “The most important thing for me is not the system, but to be able to transmit my ideas, create one competitive team, and then we have the quality (to supplement that).”
Emery plans to fully utilise Arsenal’s pre-season preparations in order for the team to “get better day-by-day” ahead of their opening match of the Premier League season against reigning champions Manchester City on 12 August.
“Let’s go step by step. We need to do it this way, working and thinking with our minds,” he said.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 14, 2018
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery steps out onto the field before Arsenal’s first pre-season friendly against Boreham Wood last Saturday.
Arsenal will be arriving in Singapore on 23 July with a star-studded squad featuring the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Summer signings Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Matteo Guendozi are also part of a 25-man travelling contingent that includes first-team regulars Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin and Aaron Ramsey.
🚨 TOUR SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 20, 2018
Arsenal’s 25-man squad for the ICC in Singapore
Right-back Bellerin has fond memories of his first visit to Singapore with Arsenal in 2015.
“I had a great time in Singapore in 2015. It was my second pre-season with the first-team and after my first season playing as a regular, so it was a great experience for me,” recounted the Spaniard in a media release. “I loved the weather, I loved the city, everything is so clean and it is such a nice culture. The fans were great too.”
“Even though it is a bit of long flight for us, I am really looking forward to it!”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 16, 2018
Arsenal fullback Hector Bellerin during a training session.
Veteran goalkeeper Cech believes that Arsenal’s trip Singapore will play an integral role in helping the players understand the expectations and style of Emery.
“We have a new head coach, and he has a new way of doing certain things, so it is great to be able to do that with good opponents,” explained the 36-year-old.
“That will make you feel better, and obviously in pre-season it is more about getting the (game) time under your belt, getting the match fitness, so that when the season starts everybody is ready to go.”
“Importantly, we will be spending this crucial part of our pre-season in good conditions in Singapore. From experience, I know the facilities will be great, the fans will be amazing, and we are playing two high quality matches. So, this is why everyone at Arsenal is looking forward to coming to Singapore.”
Other than watching the Arsenal players strut it out on the lush greenery at the Sports Hub, fans can also look forward to catching a glimpse of their favourite stars at some promotional events.
Selected Arsenal players will take part in a meet-and-greet session at an ICC-themed carnival called the ‘House of Football’ at Clarke Quay on 24 July at 3.30pm.
Meanwhile, Cech, Bellerin, Sokratis, and Lacazette are amongst a host of players who will help launch Arsenal’s third kit for the upcoming season, at the Esplanade Lawn on 26 July at 3.30 pm, before they link up with the rest of their teammates for an open-training session at the National Stadium at 6.30pm.
While news of Arsenal’s imminent arrival in Singapore has been well publicised, there is still little known about Atletico and PSG’s plans.
However, there are a number of notable names that will be missing from the lineup of both sides, who will not be travelling to Singapore due to their extertions in the latter stages of the World Cup.
Atletico are set to be without the following first-team players: Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez, Sime Vrsaljko, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis, Koke, Saul, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) July 15, 2018
The Atletico trio of Lucas Hernandez, Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann guided France to World Cup glory just two weeks ago.
In their absence, Atletico will be counting on the likes of Jan Oblak, Juanfran, Stefan Savic, Vitolo, Angel Correa, and Kevin Gameiro to add some much-needed flair to what is set to be a youthful squad with a number of academy players.
MY LOVE 💍 pic.twitter.com/Ut72cZTLWU
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) July 15, 2018
Photo Caption: PSG forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates France’s triumph at the 2018 World Cup.
Over in the PSG camp, the formidable attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will all miss out, in addition to other big names such as Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Thomas Meunier and Angel Di Maria.
Fans can look forward to seeing the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Adrien Rabiot, Lassana Diarra, and Jese Rodriguez in action, with Layvin Kurzawa, Marco Verratti and Julian Draxler in with an outside chance of travelling to Singapore.
If you haven’t already yet, get your tickets to the International Champions Cup, now!
Cover photo by Nigel Noah Chan of the DANAMIC Team.