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Friendlies fire early season excitement

Posted 15th July 2009

Premier League football is not often knocked off the back pages but in this Ashes summer the top flight clubs are left to get on with their pre-season preparations, without the distraction of a major international tournament.

Transfer market developments dominate football news and it's easy to forget that the teams will actually be in action soon. Some top clubs have one eye on their finances – Chelsea tour North America, Manchester City visit South Africa and Manchester United and Liverpool are on Far East jamborees - whilst others will prepare for the big kick-off nearer to home.

The two major preseason tournaments take place in London. Arsenal host the Emirates Cup, which also features Paris St Germain, Atlético Madrid and Rangers and the week before sees Wembley host Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, Celtic and Egyptian champions Al Alhy.

Too much can sometimes be read into these friendly matches – Spurs fans recall their 5-0 hammering of Roma last August that elevated hopes which were soon dashed in the league – but they give fans a glimpse of new signings and enable an early appraisal of the team’s chances for the impending campaign.

Harry Redknapp will be aware of his club’s habit of starting the season slowly and will treat the matches against Barça and Celtic as more than exhibition events. If Spurs do win another pre-season trophy, the challenge will be to guard against complacency, a possible cause of last year’s disastrous start.

Spurs are also in the Far East for matches against South China and Olympiacos, suggesting they are leaving nothing to chance ahead of the big kick-off.

Arsenal should be backed to win the Emirates Cup on home territory – Arsène Wenger knows the Gunners need a flying start to maintain a title challenge – and it will be interesting to see how they will go about life without Emmanuel Adebayor.