by Lewis Ambrose
The Barclays Asia Trophy sees Arsenal enter for the first time this summer, with the pre-season tournament taking place in Singapore.
On Wednesday afternoon Arsène Wenger’s men will face a Singapore XI for their first game of pre-season, before testing themselves against either Everton or Stoke on Saturday. It is unlike Arsenal to play Premier League rivals in pre-season, though two of the last three summers have seen clashes against Manchester City and this sort of fixture is becoming more common.
“You’re going to be matched up against these guys when the season starts,” said Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“So it’s always good to test yourselves when the fitness levels aren’t really there.
“When you play people at your own level it does test you more and it will push us more in pre-season.”
Facing a side that are closer to Arsenal’s level really should stand us in good stead, unlike previous trips to Asia which have arguably left us with very little serious match practice against opposition which aren’t anywhere near the standard Arsenal are accustomed to facing.
“Sometimes when you’re playing pre-season friendlies, when you’re playing a side that’s maybe not as good as you and play at a different tempo to you, you can almost not push yourself enough and that can affect your fitness.
“But you have to push yourself hard to get back to Premier League standards and level of fitness and playing Premier League teams like Everton or Stoke is obviously a good test for us and will get us back to where we need to be.”
It is clear that Everton and Stoke – who will also be approaching the season seriously after busy summers – will approach the tournament with a degree of seriousness, and should give Arsenal a good test as the Community Shield is three weeks away.
The Emirates Cup will take place between the Barclays Asia Trophy and our Wembley appearance, giving us even more opportunities to face opposition of the highest calibre before the season begins.