Emirates Cup 2010 Preview

July 31, 2010 at 3:15 am 2 comments

This weekend, I will be spending most of my time at the Emirates Stadium, for the 4th edition of the highly successful ‘Emirates Cup’, a pre-season football tournament that was begun with the noble intentions of (a) providing a couple high-quality warm-up games for Arsenal before the start of the Premier League season, (b) promoting attacking football by rewarding goals and most importantly, (c) making more money for Arsenal Football Club.

Arsenal have played three pre-season games so far, against Barnet, Sturm Graz, and SC Neusiedl (this is actually a football club, not some highly potent liver medicine) and won them 4-0, 3-0 and 4-0 respectively. This sounds absolutely delightful if you’re an Arsenal fan, but the delight must be tempered by the fact these clubs hire players only marginally better at football than washing machines. That said, however, wins are still better than draws and losses and to win without conceding any goals in 270 minutes of football is an unexpected bonus considering we have about 2.5 proper centre-backs in the squad. Some youngsters stood out and put their names firmly in the manager’s mind when the times comes for him to select his first team squad for the upcoming season. But there is still some time to go for that, so any discussions about squad strength must wait until September 1st, when the transfer window ends.

Immediately at hand though, are two difficult matches against very decent teams – Arsenal play AC Milan on Saturday and Celtic FC on Sunday. With utmost respect to the teams we’ve played so far, I think it’s fair to say that the Arsenal players will need to shift up a few gears in order to win this tournament, and the smart money would have to be on Arsenal conceding their first pre-season goal this weekend. Whatever happens, great entertainment is surely on the cards, because while attacking, we have looked pretty darned good so far, even while missing our two most gifted attackers, the want-away Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. In their absence, Samir Nasri has taken on the lead role, with Jack Wilshere heading the impressive supporting cast.

Apart from Milan and Celtic, Lyon is the other team in the tournament, so all the games will have some terrific quality on show. The only depressing news from the visitors’ front, that emerged yesterday, is that Ronaldinho will be missing in action from a thigh strain after originally being named in the Milan squad. I know he’s a shadow of his former self, but on his day, he’s still one of the most exciting players in the world. The way the Emirates Cup works, there are two games back to back on each day, at 14:00 and 16:20, and you can’t re-enter the stadium once you get out, so I’ll be spending 4-5 hours each day watching live football. Bliss, providing the weather holds up.

Now for the company – on Sunday, I will be watching the games (Milan vs. Lyon and Arsenal vs. Celtic) with a very good friend, who is a hardcore Manchester United fan but has a soft corner for Celtic because of some time he spent studying in Glasgow. I happened to be watching the 2006 Champions League final at his house in Chennai and the man had hung a Celtic scarf above the TV in anticipation of former Celtic legend Henrik Larsson playing a brilliant cameo. As it turned out, quite unfortunately I might add, Larsson did exactly that and I was at the wrong end of some alcohol-fuelled ‘banter’, at a time when I was already depressed because of the result. It was the worst of times. But he’s a proper football fan, by which I mean he’s extremely knowledgeable about the game but cares only for the teams he supports. The kindest thing he would wish on clubs other than Manchester United would be that their fans don’t get stabbed. For Liverpool fans, even that is doubtful.

Saturday is a different issue altogether – I will be watching the game with a girl (gulp). Now I have recounted my experiences with girls and sports once before, right here, and I feel tomorrow might witness the sequel to that experience. Now I don’t mean to insinuate that all girls are indifferent to sports. Serena Williams, for instance, can put in a good shift at any number of sports – tennis, rugby, weight-lifting, wrestling grizzly bears, etc. (The last one may not be an actual sport per se, but it should be.) It’s just that the average woman cares less about sports than she does about, say, cosmetics. The average man, on the other hand, will jump over the his mother’s burning pyre to catch the action replay of an offside decision. There are exceptions though, like Serena Williams, who has his own fashion line.

Setting the battle of the sexes aside for the time being, this friend in question, by her own admission, knows precisely zilch about football. She had expressed a wish to see a game live many times in the past (when i was boring her with football-related anecdotes, probably) and so, when I was buying the tickets, I asked her if she was interested. Out of politeness or actual interest I’m not sure, but she said that she was interested and managed to sound quite excited about it. She has also promised to “google and read All About The World Of Football” by tomorrow afternoon. Now I don’t want to sound too pessimistic but I fear that might be too stiff a challenge, even for a person of considerable talent like her.

All said and done, I think it’s going to be a cracking weekend and I’ll post a round-up of the proceedings, with photos if possible. Until then, have a great weekend and GO ARSENAL!


Entry filed under: Personal.

Barnet vs. Arsenal – Here we go again! The Joy Of Cesc

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rohit  |  August 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

    As we anticipated we managed to concede 3 goals. I don’t know how good the matches were as this was the first weekend I was out of the house. Talk about timing.

    Any observations and comments about the team in general?

  • 2. Mohammed Musthafa  |  August 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Nice post, made even better since Im a Gunner myself. But havent you felt its futile tracking Arsenal’s progress? At first they’ll slip up a bit. In the middle they’ll come back strong, and by feb or march, they’ll just lose the whole plot. Just wish they’d get a better goal keeper…


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This blog was previously published at http://vinodg.blogspot.com.


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