It’s been confirmed at long last the Arsenal will take on the might of Japan, if that’s what we describing Nagoya Grampus and Urawa Reds as these days. The games are scheduled for 22 July, which is on Monday, and the following Friday, which is the 26th, in Saitama.
Last time Arsenal announced a tour of Japan it didn’t happen, of course, but let’s hope the club stick to their plans this time.
The manager, Arsene Wenger, has been quoted as saying the following: ‘I am delighted to be returning to Japan where I spent two very happy years before joining Arsenal. We are very happy to be visiting Saitama this summer after our trip to Nagoya.
‘We know that Urawa Reds frequently have large crowds at their J-League matches and the Saitama City Cup has seen top European teams compete against the Urawa Reds in previous summers.
‘The match follows our other fixture in Japan against Nagoya Grampus, and we are sure to receive a very warm welcome from our many supporters in Saitama.’
It is true that Urawa Reds are well supported, with 38,000 people regularly attending their matches in a stadium that can hold nearly 64,000 people. Nagoya, meanwhile, are averaging around 22,000 fans, which means their 45,000-capacity stadium is less than half full. I’m sure the visit of Arsenal will rectify that, and it will be interesting to see Arsene Wenger lock horns with a man who has been tipped to become his successor, Nagoya boss, Dragan ‘Piksi’ Stojkavic.
By then, it should be a very different Arsenal taking the field, as David Dein says Wenger will definitely spend on players this summer. I hope he’s right.
Meanwhile, I hate to say I told you so, but I did say we pick up three points at West Bromwich Albion. And I did say would be tough.
Two things I didn’t predict: a Per Mertesacker red card and a brace from Tomas Rosicky. And what makes this even more surprising was yet another assist from another rarely-do-well, Gervinho.
The only downside was Fabianski flapping at crosses, at times, but mostly it was an assured performance from the Pole. Accolades all round, and a deserved three points for Arsenal. Now we need more of the same against Norwich at the Emirates.