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Wenger welcomes strong Emirates Cup line-up

Arsene Wenger is relishing the chance for his side to test themselves against two teams he feels will be important players in Europe in the next few years, as Arsenal step up their pre-season preparations at the Emirates Cup.

Having won the Asia Trophy in Singapore last week, Arsenal return to the Emirates Stadium to host a tournament that has been held since 2007 – aside from 2012 due to the London Olympic Games.

Home advantage means Arsenal start as favourites, but in Lyon and Wolfsburg they face sides who finished runners-up in Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga last season, while La Liga club Villarreal complete the line-up.

Manager Wenger has welcomed the strength of opponent, with Arsenal set to play Chelsea in the Community Shield on August 2 before hosting West Ham in the Premier League opener a week later.

“They are two teams we can talk about in the next two or three years because Lyon has a good bunch of young players and finished second in the league and Wolfsburg is the upcoming team in Germany,” Wenger said at a news conference ahead of the tournament this weekend. 

“They did a good job last year and they are two teams who certainly will be important teams in Europe in the next few years.”

Fans in attendance will not get to see Alexis Sanchez as he is yet to return to training after winning the Copa America with Chile, while Danny Welbeck remains absent with a knee injury.

Wolfsburg, who start against Villarreal on Saturday before facing Arsenal on Sunday, will bring a familiar face to the Emirates Stadium with Nicklas Bendtner returning to a club he left at the of the 2013-14 season.

Reported Manchester City target Kevin De Bruyne is the star man on show for the German club, while Peru international Carlos Ascues may get his first action in a Wolfsburg shirt after the centre-back joined on Thursday.

Lyon finished runners-up to Arsenal when they last played in the tournament in 2010, and they head to London with head coach Hubert Fournier having signed a contract extension until 2017 earlier this week.

Villarreal include close-season signings Leo Baptistao and Victor Ruiz in their squad for the tournament.

In the Emirates Cup, three points are rewarded for a win and one for a draw, while teams get an additional point for every goal scored.

Fri 24 Jul, 2015
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