Arsenal will want to put on a show in front of the American fans when they play the MLS All-Stars in a high-profile preseason match in San Jose on Thursday. With the primary focus, as far as Arsenal fans are concerned, on the transfer business, Arsene Wenger will hope that some of his fringe players, and not so fringe players, showcase their talents in what is expected to be a sold out crowd at the Avaya stadium.
The English Premier League side are back in the US after two years, when they played Thierry Henry's New York Red Bulls. For the 2016 US tour, Arsenal will play two matches – the first against the MLS All-Stars and the second one against Chivas de Guadalajara.
All preseason games are vital for Arsenal at the moment, considering the fact that the new Premier League season is less than three weeks away. With several of their first team stars yet to return from holiday – Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud all went deep in Euro 2016, while Alexis Sanchez suffered an ankle injury in the final of the Copa America Centenario – these two matches will be an opportunity for the youngsters and the players on the outside looking in to make their case for an inclusion in the starting XI for the new season.
"We know that we have a very short period to prepare," Wenger told reporters on Tuesday. "Many of our players have been at the European Championship. We start in mid-August so we have to make the absolute maximum of each game we play. That's why it will be a very interesting game for us on Thursday."
The match against the MLS All-Stars, while being a friendly, is expected to be a really competitive one, what with the likes of Kaka, Didier Drogba, Sebastian Giovinco, who has had a stellar season in the MLS, David Villa and Andre Pirlo all set to feature.
Wenger will know this match against the All-Stars will help in getting his players back into the thick of things, which is what a manager needs as the new season closes in, and tickets for the match already sold out, the atmosphere is expected to be brilliant.
"My first impression [of the US] is that there are more and more people here in the States who love football and know our players, which is a bit unusual for us in the States," Wenger added. "That's a good sign that football is taking off in the States."
Arsenal vs MLS All-Stars schedule:
Date: Thursday, July 28.
Time: 4.30 p.m. PT (7.30 p.m. ET, 12.30 a.m. BST (Friday), 5 a.m. IST (Friday)).
Venue: Avaya Stadium, San Jose, California.
TV listings: India: No live coverage. US: ESPN and Unimas. Canada: TSN and RDS. UK: Sky Sports 2. Mexico and Latin America: ESPN. China and Hong Kong: LeTV. Singapore: SuperSports. International: Arsenal Player (Online).