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Arsenal put in one of the performances of the 2018 International Champions Cup as the Gunners, under new head coach Unai Emery, beat Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 at the Singapore National Stadium.
The North London outfit played out 1-1 draws with Atlético de Madrid, also in Singapore, and Chelsea at a packed out Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
The 13-time champions of England will be returning to participate in the 2019 edition of the summer’s premier club competition.
Arsenal changed the face of soccer in England with the legendary Arsène Wenger at the helm. Before his arrival in 1996, English clubs tended to favour 4-4-2 with wide players keeping the width while looking to get balls into the penalty area. Diets and nutrition were poor and sports science was an alien concept. But the Frenchman changed all that, and more.
It was Wenger who introduced more technical players to the English top flight. The former Monaco coach inherited Dennis Bergkamp but signed Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka, Marc Overmars, Robert Píres and Thierry Henry to great success.
The Gunners regularly put on passing clinics as they won three Premier League titles in the space of six years, going unbeaten throughout the 2003/04 campaign to earn the tag of ‘Invincibles’. They also won seven FA Cups and reached three European Cup finals during Wenger’s spell in charge.
The 2019 International Champions Cup gives Emery’s team, with the benefit of a full season under the Spanish tactician, the opportunity to showcase what they’re all about.
The third-most successful English club ever, the Gunners are the only team besides Manchester United and Liverpool to win the league title on more than ten occasions. Three of those successes arrived under Wenger when his team went toe-to-toe with a dominant United side coached by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Founded in 1886 as Dial Square, Arsenal brought innovation to English soccer long before Wenger was appointed. It was the great Herbert Chapman who gave the English game white footballs, numbered shirts and more – as well as instigating the introduction of floodlit games at night.
In more recent times, Arsenal have been responsible for developing some of the greatest talents to ever grace the English top flight with Cesc Fàbregas, Robin Van Persie, Ashley Cole and Alexis Sánchez all turning out for the North London outfit.
Often described as trendsetters, Arsenal were the first team to fully embrace a possession-based system in England. The Gunners used wide forwards on the opposite flanks to allow them to cut inside and were one of the first sides to transition a wide player into a centre-forward in Henry.
At the end of the 2017/18 campaign, a new chapter in the club’s illustrious history began as Wenger left after 22 years at the helm. The Frenchman’s contribution to the club went far beyond the trophies he won (17) and the players he brought through. It was he who transformed the Gunners off the pitch as the driving force behind their move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.
Stadium – The Emirates
The Emirates has been home to Arsenal since 2006. The Gunners moved away from the 38,000-capacity Highbury and into the 60,000-capacity stadium with the club growing as a brand both on and off the pitch.
It’s the third-largest stadium in England behind Wembley and Old Trafford and cost $420million to build. Arsenal’s first match at their new home ended in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Brazilian midfielder Gilberto Silva netted the club’s first goal at their new home.
To date, Dutch striker Robin van Persie has scored the most goals at the Emirates Stadium with 64.
Coach – Unai Emery
Emery was appointed in the summer of 2018 and thus became the first coach besides Wenger to manage Arsenal since the turn of the millennium. The 47-year-old Spaniard brought a clear playing style to the Emirates and is a serial winner.
He guided Sevilla to three consecutive UEFA Europa League triumphs before delivering six trophies at Paris Saint-Germain during a two-year spell in the French capital.
Under his watchful eye, Arsenal went on a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions between August and December 2018.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – One of the most prolific players in world soccer, Aubameyang was linked with a number of elite clubs before Arsenal parted with a rumoured $65million to secure his services from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
He’s brought his remarkable scoring record from Germany to the English top flight, despite playing in a wider role under Emery.
Mesut Özil – The Germany international has the ability to unlock the sternest of defences. His wand of a left foot can turn a 0-0 draw into a 1-0 win in the blink of an eye and you’d be mistaken for believing there’s a magnet in his boot when you see how he manipulates the ball.
The former Real Madrid star is comfortably one of the best playmakers in world soccer and a FIFA World Cup winner with Die Mannschaft in 2014.
Alexandre Lacazette – Just like his team-mate Aubameyang, Lacazette deals in goals. The Olympique Lyonnais youth academy product followed the path of Gunners great Henry as a youngster when he was converted from a wide forward into a genuine number nine.
Since the move, the goals have flowed. He netted more than 100 for Lyon over a four-year spell before moving to the Premier League for a club-record fee of $61million in 2017.
Ones to Watch
Reiss Nelson – The 19-year-old has lit up the Bundesliga on loan at Hoffenheim during the 2018/19 campaign. Nelson’s direct nature makes things happen on a soccer pitch and gets fans off their feet.
He’s aggressive in his dribbling and has an eye for a pass. His calmness when in the penalty area is something usually associated with a player much older; he's a real sparkplug and a difference-maker.
Emile Smith Rowe – The youngster was one of the breakout stars during the 2018 edition of the International Champions Cup, scoring a scorching effort against Atlético de Madrid in Singapore, and could steal the show again for the Gunners.
The 18-year-old midfielder netted three times in six appearances for the first-team before being loaned to German outfit RB Leipzig in January to continue his development.