It’s taken 40 years, but finally Arsenal FC are bringing their stars back to the shores of Australia. In July 2017, Sydney will be painted red in a spectacle not to be missed…
Flashback to 1977, the last time the Gunners landed down under, when fans witnessed names like Rice, Stapleton and Armstrong take on a Socceroos squad in a four team competition that also included Glasgow Celtic and Red Star Belgrade. Played at the Sydney Sportsground, Australia would end the game victorious 3-1.
This time around, Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers will take on the EPL giants over two games in the middle of next year’s winter. The names will be different, the venue will be different and the atmosphere will be different… so what are we likely to expect?
The first thing the boys from North London will bring is class, and there is no better example of this than Arsène Wenger. The French-born manager has been at the helm at Highbury since 1996, and has led the club to multiple trophy wins including the League title 3 times and the FA Cup 6 times.
During his 20-year reign, Wenger has changed the club’s old-school mentality and taken them into the modern era with revolutionary tactics both on and off the field. He was the first manager in England to truly tap into the talent pool outside of the UK, hand-picking players from all over the world to eventually create a squad known as the ‘Invincibles’. In 2006, he oversaw Arsenal’s move from the historic, yet outdated Highbury to the new Emirates Stadium, a venue widely regarded as the best in England.
The second thing that is guaranteed is high-quality, ‘beautiful’ football. Arsenal are one of the best clubs in the world at the passing game and will own the football. It is this style of play that has allowed them to retain a UEFA Champions League place for 20 seasons in a row, the longest streak of any English club. Renowned for their strength in the midfield, the Gunners are likely to woo fans with one-touch football, always easy on the eye. Littered with star-power, those who do manage to find a ticket will be treated to some of the best players across the globe. Here are some names to look out for...
Transferring from Barcelona in 2014, the Chilean international is known for terrorising defences in both the Premier League and around the world. The human Energizer bunny never stops running, trying and creating, and these efforts were recognised in his first season with Arsenal when Sanchez was named in the PFA Team of the Year and was named PFA Fans' Player of the Season. For his native Chile, he was instrumental in their 2015 Copa America triumph and defence this year against the best in South America.
One of the most gifted players in Europe, Ozil is the chief architect in the Arsenal midfield. Despite already being a recognised star during his time with Real Madrid and the German national team, question-marks surrounded Ozil's ability to adapt to the physical nature of the English Premier League when he transferred in 2013. However, in the 2015/16 season he answered his critics and stamped himself as the best assist man in the league, finishing 6 assists clear of his nearest rival on 19 overall.
After suffering a horrific broken leg in 2010, Aaron Ramsey has come on leaps and bounds to be one of Arsenal's most pivotal players. Powerful through the midfield with plenty in the trickbag, the Wales international had his breakout season in 2013/14 when he scored 16 goals for the campaign. Since then he has continued to grow as a vitally important cog in the Gunners' side, with leadership potential. His ability to play from the front was on show for all to see in the recent Euros competition, where he helped lead underdogs Wales to an unprecedented semi-final birth.
The much-maligned Frenchman definitely has his critics, but the stats don't lie. Strikers are paid to score goals, and that's exactly what Giroud does. In 2015/16, the Gunners talisman scored 16 goals in the English Premier League and 24 overall for the campaign, including a memorable hat-trick in the Champions League against Olympiakos. Equally impressive is his form with his national side France, for whom he has netted 20 goals in 55 appearances, many of them off the bench. Despite these numbers Giroud will always have his doubters, and he will always respond the same way... by scoring goals.
So when Arsenal comes to town, make sure you secure the perfect vantage point to watch the best in England in this unique event. ANZ Stadium offers a range of packages and experiences to give you the chance to cheer on your heros, including premium viewing in Zone Boxes, first-class hospitality in your own Private Suite or even in the relaxed cocktail party atmosphere of The Foundry.
So what are you waiting for? Join the Gunners and just Go There!