The Gunners’ pre-season tournament kicks off with RB Leipzig taking on Sevilla before Arsene Wenger’s men themselves face the Portuguese champions
Arsenal kick off this year’s Emirates Cup with a clash against Benfica on Saturday afternoon.
The pre-season competition is back after taking a year off due to Euro 2016 and pitch renovations at the Emirates Stadium and begins with RB Leipzig taking on Sevilla.
Immediately after that, the Gunners face Benfica in the second half of the doubleheader before they take on Sevilla and Benfica face Leipzig the next day.
|Game||Arsenal vs Benfica|
|Date||Saturday, July 29|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and by stream on WatchESPN and fuboTV.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|ESPN Deportes (Spanish)||WatchESPN / fuboTV|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Ospina, Martinez, Cech|
|Defenders||Mertesacker, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Bramall|
|Midfielders||Ramsey, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Elneny, Nelson, Willock|
|Forwards||Lacazette, Giroud, Walcott, Welbeck|
Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi will only return to pre-season training this weekend, while Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson are with the Under-23 side.
Santi Cazorla, Gabriel and Jack Wilshere are injured.
Potential starting XI: Cech; Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elneny, Coquelin, Kolasinac; Ozil, Giroud, Welbeck.
|Goalkeepers||Cesar, Lopes, Varela|
|Defenders||Lisandro, Grimaldo, Luisao, Kalaica, Eliseu, Pereira, Jardel, Almeida, Hermes, Dias, Buta|
|Midfielders||Fejsa, Augusto, Samaris, Horta, Salvio, Krovinovic, Pizzi, Cervi, Willock, Chrien, Goncalves, Zivkovic, Carrillo, Carvalho, Silva|
|Forwards||Raul, Jonas, Mitroglou, Seferovic|
Benfica have a full complement to choose from, with just young striker Cristian Arango left out ahead of a potential loan move.
Chris Willock, who recently left Arsenal for Benfica, could feature against his brother Joe, who remains with the Gunners and has been included in their Emirates Cup squad.
Potential starting XI: Varela; Pereira, Kalaica, Luisao, Grimaldo; Fejsa, Pizzi; Salvio, Jonas, Cervi; Mitroglou.
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Arsenal are 8/15 favourites to win, according to dabblebet, with Benfica priced at 9/2 the draw available at 16/5.
Arsenal are now four matches into their pre-season and the Emirates Cup will offer Arsene Wenger a chance to fine tune his troops before the Community Shield against Chelsea.
You would imagine that every player fit and available for selection will get a chance to log a few more minutes against Benfica and Sevilla, with the Gunners facing top European opponents back-to-back across two days.
All that will remain after the tournament will be to integrate Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez back into the group following their extended breaks – and ease what is likely to be a tense mood around the Chilean’s return.
Wenger insists Alexis has not told him directly that he wants to leave Arsenal this summer, but his statements about wanting to play in the Champions League and apparent meetings with the Paris Saint-Germain hierarchy would seem to paint a clear enough picture.
The French manager has also maintained, however, that there is simply no chance of Alexis being allowed to leave before his contract expires.
That is a bold declaration given many Arsenal fans had probably been coming to terms with the departure of their star man on the condition that a top talent such as Thomas Lemar was brought in to replace him.
Instead – as seems to often be the case in north London these days – Arsenal fans look set to endure an anxious August as the transfer talk heats up and the deadline approaches.