By Josh James in Kuala Lumpur

Last night's training session was like no other the Arsenal players have experienced.

After signing some autographs for the two dozen or so fans who have located the team hotel on the outskirts of KL, the team were whisked off to the Bukit Jalil Stadium at about 6.30pm.

Rush hour traffic in KL makes London look like a sleepy backwater but the team coach, security cars and Arsenal staff bus made up a police-escorted cavalcade which weaved its way precariously through the busy streets.

Far from being perturbed by the disruption to their commute though, the passengers in the held up traffic seemed overjoyed to see the Arsenal players on the coach, and were waving, hooting and holding up messages for them.

That was a small taste of the welcome waiting for them inside the stadium some half an hour later. Each member of the squad - coaching staff and all - was introduced to the crowd as they individually made their entrance through the tunnel.

The 87,000 capacity national stadium was less than a third full, but the noise generated by the fanatical supporters in attendance virtually gave the impression of a full house.

The crowd remained in good voice as the players took part in a high tempo training match - the performance level has discernibly risen since the session just 24 hours earlier.

Robin van Persie continued to show his uncanny - and unlucky - knack of hitting the woodwork, at least three times in less than half an hour. There were also some superb reaction saves from Wojciech Szczesny.

Then it was time for some more relaxed pitch events - crossbar challenges, tricks and flicks and penalty shoot-outs. The players were enjoying themselves so much by this point that they didn't want to leave the pitch.

When Theo scored past Vito Mannone with a wrong-foot penalty though, he decided it was as good a time as any to call it a day. But before hitting the showers, the whole squad embarked on a lap of honour, throwing gifts into the crowd - who were screaming the name of any player who came within 20 yards of the running track.

The players were clearly buzzing with excitement, taken aback by the reception, when we interviewed them in front of the Arsenal TV cameras pitchside.

This morning it was an altogether more sedate affair. Instead of training, the players took a 15-minute group stroll around the hotel grounds, though even that was enough to bring them all out in a sweat such are the humid conditions here.

You sense that walk was the calm before the storm, with up to 60,000 passionate Gooners expected for tonight's game with a Malaysia XI.

You get the impression that Arsenal may just feel they have home advantage this evening.

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13 Jul 2011