English Premeier League club Arsenal’s visit to Japan this July is the first time the first team will play in Japan since 1968. Not only are they playing a friendly match against J-League’s Nagoya Grampus, they have just also announced their participation in the 10th Saitama Cup. They will be playing against another J-League side, the Urawa Reds.
The Saitama Cup is an annual international friendly tournament held in the Saitama Stadium and usually features a match by an international club vs a J-League side. Past clubs who have played here are Barcelona, Manchester United and Inter Milan. The Arsenal vs Urawa Reds match will be held on July 26, four days after they take on Nagoya Grampus, which was managed by Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger for 18 months in 1995-1996. Arsene said he is looking forward to facing both his former team and Urawa. The Reds are managed by former football player Serbian Mihailo Petrovic and draws in big crowds during its matches. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said he expects his club’s Japanese supporters to be in full force during these two matches.
Arsene has said before in an interview that Japan is a good place to look for potential talent. With the success of Japanese talent in Europe (Shinji Kagawa for Manchester United, Keisuke Honda for CSKA Moscow, Yuto Nagatomo for Inter Milan), it is not surprising that other European clubs would look towards Japan’s crop of upcoming talent. Arsenal’s visit to Japan is the last stop in their Asian Tour 2013 which includes a visit to the imposing 88,000-capacity Gelora Bung Karno Stadium where they will take on the Indonesian national team.
[ via Tribal Football ]